Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition. To view the full roster of “50 for 50” honorees, click here.
At the height of World War II, demand for agricultural commodities increased dramatically. American farmers—including potato growers—responded brilliantly, ramping up production to unprecedented levels. However, when the war ended, demand sharply decreased, and this depressed market conditions for, among other things, potatoes.
At the time, potato production was expanding across the country, but no framework existed on a national level to facilitate the movement of surplus potatoes. In 1948, a group of growers with incredible foresight formed the National Potato Council (NPC) to promote potato consumption and nationally represent the nation’s then-45,000 potato growers on legislative and regulatory matters. Representatives from every large potato producing area were named to serve on the NPC board of directors, which would meet periodically to consider the industry’s most pressing problems and make recommendations for their improvement. Finances were provided by state potato organizations.
The venture has certainly paid off. Today, the value of U.S. potato production is over $4.5 billion annually and directly and indirectly supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NPC remains committed to providing a unified voice for this large, diverse industry on national legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues to promote the increased profitability for growers. Over the decades, the NPC has succeeded in representing the diverse interests of U.S. potato producers, and continues to play a significant role in influencing policy that directly affects U.S. growers’ ability to compete both domestically and globally.
The NPC is a grassroots-drive, member-led organization. The council’s president, executive committee and board of directors are all potato grower volunteers and oversee the development and implementation of NPC policy initiatives. NPC staff work tirelessly to represent the interests of potato growers, packers and shippers, giving them a voice year-round in Washington. And each winder, the NPC organizes and facilitates the Potato D.C. Fly-In, allowing potato growers from across the country to come to Washington and visit, in person, elected representatives and regulatory officials, providing those people real-world examples of how decisions made in the capital impact their ability to produce a safe and stable food supply.
From humble—some might say desperate—origins, the NPC has steadily grown in sphere and influence, ensuring the potato industry is heard loud and clear on a national level.