County Ag Report - How the Maine Potato Board Serves the Potato Industry

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 3:31 PM EST
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We represent growers, dealers and processors from Fort Kent to Fryeburg. We’ve got growers in Fort Kent, and we’ve got growers in Fryeburg. Our office is in Presque Isle, but on issues that relate to the industry, it is the industry and we take everyone into consideration.”

During our recent visit to the offices of the Maine Potato Board to talk with Executive Director, Don Flannery, about the 2022 growing season, we also asked him to describe the work the board does to support Maine’s potato industry. Flannery started by explaining why the board was created and how it has evolved since its creation by the state legislature in 1982

“Prior to that there were multi organizations representing the industry. One representing processors, one representing dealers, one representing growers, so it was kind of a mixed bag. And they determined at that point and time in the industry that really wasn’t working so they created the Maine Potato Board as it is today. The Board represents growers, dealers and processors, so anybody that’s raising more than an acre of potatoes in the state is a grower, and then all of the processors and the dealers are a member of the organization.

After bringing all of the different organizations under the umbrella of the Potato Board, the Board’s primary goal was to promote the Maine potato, but that would later change.

“It became obvious about almost twenty years ago, that the budget they had or could create, really wasn’t enough to move the needle in the marketplace. You know, you could take a million dollars and spend it on marketing in Boston, and you’re probably not going to move the needle. It sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t. Some trade organizations would look at just solely marketing activities. That isn’t what we do.”

Flannery says that the Potato Board’s main mission today is to help those in the industry do the things that they can’t do for themselves.

“We do advocacy for the industry both in Augusta and DC, working on many issues. Whether it’s a pesticide issue, a water issue, land use issues, whatever it may be. And over the years we’ve taken on other responsibilities. We’ve got an engineer on staff that works with growers on irrigation, technology and storages. We’ve got a plant pathologist that runs the state’s disease testing lab where they do testing of potatoes, and post-harvesting testing of potatoes. We’ve got an agronomist on staff that works with growers on alternative crops, and ag practices. Those are the types of things we do.”

Brian Bouchard, NEWSSOURCE 8.