Kara MasonKara MasonFebruary 8, 20183min728

Last April, U.S. Potato Council CEO John Keeling sent a letter to President Donald Trump outlining some ways the new administration could improve the potato industry.

Mostly, Keeling said NAFTA could use some work, but pulling out of the agreement altogether would be catastrophic for potato farmers, such as the ones nestled in Colorado’s San Luis Valley where Keeling spoke this week for the 2018 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair.

In last year’s letter Keeling said:

The potato industry believes that potato exports to Mexico could grow to $500 million annually with full unrestricted access for all U.S. fresh and processed potatoes. Those same conditions would produce exports of Canada of $300 million annually. These increased sales would generate additional jobs on-farms, in agricultural processing, in transportation and other related sectors. As potatoes are produced in 35 states these new U.S. jobs would occur throughout rural America.

So, how’s the president doing? Keeling reported to the conference in Monte Vista on Tuesday that while there’s been some major changes in the White House, there’s also a lot of the same.

Alamosa News reports:

For example, he said although congress passed the tax bill, it did so in too much of a hurry and did not think it through thoroughly or give it the attention to detail it required, which resulted in some problems that will have to be remedied.

At last year’s conference Keeling anticipated that the Trump Administration would enact regulatory reform, as that was one of Trump’s goals.

“The Trump Administration has brought a new attitude towards regulation,” Keeling said.

Keeling told the audience a shakeup at the Environmental Protection Agency has been a positive change, as has some related executive orders on regulations, according to the news report.

Another hot topic for the potato farmers at the conference was immigration.

“We need a comprehensive reform, need border security, need guest worker workforce that can work in agriculture, come to this country, work and go home and some way to keep people working in agriculture who might not be completely documented,” Keeling reportedly said.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 28, 20175min372


We tend to avoid blogging about the many press releases we get from Colorado’s Washington delegation “announcing” some grant or new funding stream to some program or another back home in Colorado. It’s not that we don’t think the programs themselves merit news coverage or that Colorado isn’t happy to have the extra funding; it’s that, typically, the lawmakers had about as much to do with dispensing the money as did any of the rest of us. They’re just looking to get some good press out of sharing the news.

Given the prevailing partisan acrimony in our nation’s capital, however, we’re happy to make an exception for a joint press release issued today by the offices of Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. To have a Democrat and a Republican appear together in the current climate on any announcement that isn’t a legal notice — or a fight card — is refreshing in its own right. What’s more, the topic in this case is something we all can agree on — one of Colorado’s most distinguished cash crops, the potato. Here’s the gist:

The Colorado State University (CSU) will receive $2.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study the integration of new technologies to manage potato pathogens in North American potato crops.

It’s welcome news, of course. It also gives us an excuse to post this fetching video on potatoes from Colorado’s famed San Luis Valley — and there’s not even a remotely political reference of any kind in it. Take a moment to view it and enjoy:

And here’s the rest of the press release, verbatim — our gift for the week to Bennet’s and Gardner’s press shops:

“Congratulations to Colorado State on receiving this grant to improve the treatment and management of potato pathogens,” Bennet said. “Potatoes are a critical part of our agricultural economy in Colorado. This grant is an investment in research that will assist potato growers across the country and protect future potato production”

 “It is critically important that the Department of Agriculture is working with our nation’s universities like Colorado State to support research that will assist our farmers with crop production,” Gardner said. “I’ve been a proud supporter of agriculture research through National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and believe this grant will be an asset to our potato farmers throughout Colorado.”

Bacterial potato pathogens such as blackleg and soft-rot cause significant crop losses on farms throughout the country. This grant will help integrate advanced technologies to manage and reduce the spread of these pathogens.  In June, Bennet and Gardner announced that Colorado State received a $264,600 USDA grant to study the spread of a new bacterial pathogen in U.S. potatoes. Together, the two grants will support critical efforts to protect U.S. potato farms.