United States Potato Board Votes To Increase Assessment Rate

The board members of the United States Potato Board (USPB) voted overwhelmingly to increase the assessment rate by a half-cent. The proposed assessment rate increase received broad support across all potato producing regions and was voted on during USPB’s 37th Annual Meeting, March 10-13 in Denver, CO. Board members voted by a margin of 91% in favor of increasing the assessment rate.

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Growers and handlers across the U.S., who are presently paying 2.5¢ per cwt., could begin paying 3¢ per cwt. at the earliest, in spring 2010. Each regional caucus reported favorable support for this Grower Leadership Initiative to increase the assessment rate by a half-cent.

This proposal was first presented and discussed in regional caucus meetings and during the full board meeting at the March 2008 USPB annual meeting. All year, USPB Grower Leaders have facilitated the state and regional discussions about the need to increase USPB funding levels to maintain vital demand building programs.

“The global economy drives our businesses,” said Bart Connors, USPB past chairman. “Our exchange rates with foreign currencies have positively affected our export potential, but the costs of maintaining our international program have also increased. There is never a right time to discuss increasing the assessment rate, but I believe making this increase is the prudent choice required to maintain our important and valuable programs.”

Connors recently guided the efforts to communicate the necessity for increasing the assessment rate while serving as USPB’s 2008-2009 chairman. Tom Qualey of Sherman, ME, was elected chairman of USPB at the March 2009 annual meeting. He was also instrumental in supporting the Grower Leadership Initiative, and communicating the need to maintain the strength of USPB’s demand building programs.

USPB programs have successfully increased demand for U.S. potatoes and potato products in domestic and international markets.

• Fifty-two chefs representing 45 restaurant chains with a total of 84,000 units and $71 billion in sales have attended USPB’s foodservice seminars at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, CA. About 40% of those attending these custom seminars are developing, or have already added, new potato items to their menus.

• The USPB’s nationally recognized, award winning Best-In-Class and Best-In Class Fast Track Retail programs are proven and effective tools that increase retail sales and reconnect fresh potatoes with the lifestyles of today’s consumers.

• The launch of the “Potatoes…Goodness Unearthed” campaign delivers a powerful nutrition message targeted to women with children at home.

• U.S. Potatoes and Potato Products are recognized worldwide for quality and innovation. During FY2008, U.S. Potatoes and Potato Product exports exceeded $1 billion, supported by USPB’s market access and development program initiatives.

• The industry continues to benefit from innovations in which USPB invests for each segment to improve the versatility and convenience of potatoes.

• USPB’s most recent grower survey demonstrated strong grower support and approval of USPB programs. About 83% of growers support USPB’s goals and strategies — up 10% from the 2005 grower survey.
 

Source: United States Potato Board