1909_Badger Common'Tater

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$22/year | $2/copy | Volume 71 No. 09 | SEPTEMBER 2019

THE VOICE OF WISCONSIN'S POTATO & VEGETABLE INDUSTRY

STORAGE & MARKETING ISSUE

THE CROWDS CAME & Field Days Flourished GROWER PARTICIPATION: Water Stewards Program DRIVE VALUE To Your Farm UNDERSTAND H-2A Hired Labor Policies

Purple flowering potato plants are a sight to behold in a past year on Sowinski Farms, Inc.

INTERVIEW:

PAUL SOWINSKI Sowinski Farms, Inc.


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On the Cover: It was a good year for potatoes as evidenced by the field of healthy plants and brilliant purple flowers on Sowinski Farms, Inc. Having locations in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and Charleston, Missouri, Sowinski Farms specializes in growing seed and chipping potatoes, with the southern location in proximity of several chip processing plants.

8 BADGER COMMON’TATER INTERVIEW:

The barn in this historic photo is still standing on Sowinski Farms, Inc., and is where the family stored potatoes before warehouses were built. Paul Sowinski says his grandparents, Henry and Evelyn Sowinski, started the farm, in 1932, where they logged, grew Christmas trees and raised dairy cows. His father, Alvin, and uncle, David (Sonny), began the potato operation with Henry in the 1940’s.

DEPARTMENTS: ALI'S KITCHEN.................... 61 BADGER BEAT.................... 49 MARK YOUR CALENDAR...... 6

14 THEY BUILT THE FIELDS & THE CROWDS CAME Antigo and Hancock hold research station field days

20 NOW NEWS

Trembling Prairie Farms offers locally grown celery serving Midwest markets

28 EYES ON ASSOCIATES

Putt-Tato Open raises funds for scholarships, research and much more

MARKETPLACE................... 38 NEW PRODUCTS................ 44 NPC NEWS......................... 42 PEOPLE.............................. 26

FEATURE ARTICLES: 34 GROWER-DRIVEN Water Stewards Program focuses on resources and conservation

PLANTING IDEAS.................. 6

46 “VALUE DRIVERS” help limit business risk and add profitability to farm operations

POTATOES USA NEWS........ 58

53 TRENDS IN U.S. FARM LABOR: Understand H-2A program policies & related issues

WPIB FOCUS...................... 52

4

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Treasurer: Rich Wilcox Directors: Chris Brooks, Julie Cartwright, Kristi Kulas & Nick Laudenbach Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association Board of Directors: President: Dan Kakes Vice President: Jeff Fassbender Secretary/Treasurer: Matt Mattek Directors: Roy Gallenberg & J.D. Schroeder Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary Board of Directors: President: Kathy Bartsch Vice President: Devin Zarda Secretary/Treasurer: Datonn Hanke Directors: Jody Baginski, Brittany Bula, Deniell Bula & Marie Reid

Mission Statement of the WPVGA: To advance the interests of WPVGA members through education, information, environmentally sound research, promotion, governmental action and involvement. Mission Statement of the WPVGA Associate Division: To work in partnership with the WPVGA as product and service providers to promote mutual industry viability by integrating technology and information resources. Badger Common’Tater is published monthly at 700 Fifth Avenue, Antigo, Wisconsin 54409

WPVGA Staff Executive Director: Tamas Houlihan Managing Editor: Joe Kertzman Director of Promotions & Consumer Education: Dana Rady Financial Officer: Karen Rasmussen Executive Assistant: Julie Braun Program Assistant: Jane Guillen Spudmobile Assistant: Doug Foemmel

WPVGA Office (715) 623-7683 • FAX: (715) 623-3176 E-mail: wpvga@wisconsinpotatoes.com Website: www.wisconsinpotatoes.com LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/WPVGA

Subscription rates: $2/copy, $22/year; $40/2 years. Foreign subscription rates: $35/year; $55/2 years. Telephone: (715) 623-7683 Mailing address: P.O. Box 327, Antigo, Wisconsin 54409 Or, subscribe free online: http://wisconsinpotatoes.com/blog-news/subscribe/ ADVERTISING: To advertise your service or product in this magazine, call (715) 630-6213, or email: Joe Kertzman: jkertzman@wisconsinpotatoes.com. The editor welcomes manuscripts and pictures but accepts no responsibility for such material while in our hands. BC�T September

5


MARK YOUR

Calendar SEPTEMBER

10-14 14 30

POTATO BOWL USA FESTIVITIES Grand Forks, ND 3rd ANNUAL ALSUM FARMS & PRODUCE TATER TROT 5K Alsum Farms & Produce, 10 a.m. Friesland, WI 2019 PORTAGE COUNTY BUSINESS COUNCIL JOB FAIR Holiday Inn Convention Center, 12-5 p.m. Stevens Point, WI

OCTOBER

1-2 17-19

WGA INNOVATION EXPO Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells, WI PMA FRESH SUMMIT Anaheim Convention Center Anaheim, CA

Planting Ideas It was an eventful

and fulfilling day. It started out with a Grower Education Conference planning meeting at Insight FS in Antigo, Wisconsin, where ideas were shared in preparation for researcher presentations to coincide with the Industry Show in Stevens Point, February 4-6, 2020. Then, it was a quick lunch and off to the Langlade County Airport and Research Station, July 25, for the annual Antigo Field Day. Finally, there was a special project I was asked to participate in immediately following the field day. Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Director of Promotions & Consumer Education, Dana Rady, had asked me to meet her at Hyland Lakes Spuds to take some pictures of potato and vegetable grower Keith Wolter and his family for a billboard that can be seen facing south (or traveling north) on Hwy. I-39/U.S.-51 near Bancroft.

NOVEMBER

I was privileged to be asked, but a little wary, as I am an editor and not necessarily a professional photographer, and I had never taken an image to be used on a billboard. What started out as worrisome dissipated to fun and adventure. Any time you take pictures of three little girls, plus Mom and Dad, in a blooming field of potatoes, it’s going to be fun!

JANUARY 2020

Keith, his wife, Danielle, and daughters, Paige (front-right), Hadley (front-left) and Reese (in Dad’s arms), in the image above, make for one beautiful family first off. And the girls were so cute and patient considering the hundreds of photos we had to take to get just the right one. I think there was some bribing going on with promises of ice cream and the Langlade County Fair later that day, if I’m not mistaken. Regardless, I love kids, and had fun watching Keith and Danielle juggle (literally) the three little ones. Imagine just getting them ready in the morning, and especially for a family portrait in a field! It made my day just thinking of it.

2

14-15

2019 SPUD BOWL Community Stadium, Goerke Park, 1 p.m. Stevens Point, WI

POTATO EXPO The Mirage Las Vegas, NV

FEBRUARY

4-6 24-27

WPVGA GROWER EDUCATION CONFERENCE & INDUSTRY SHOW Holiday Inn Convention Center Stevens Point, WI POTATO D.C. FLY-IN Capital Hilton Washington, D.C.

MARCH

The billboard is part of a promotions and marketing effort to bring public awareness to the fact that potato and vegetable growers are conscientious stewards of the land who have families of their own, care deeply about them and their communities, and not the least of which, help feed the world. Along with the image are the words “Farmer, Father, Friend.”

3/31-4/2 60th ANNUAL WPS FARM SHOW Experimental Aircraft Association Grounds Oshkosh, WI

Please email me with your thoughts and questions. If you wish to be notified when our free online magazine is available monthly, here is the subscriber link: http://wisconsinpotatoes.com/blog-news/subscribe.

JULY

Joe Kertzman

16

HANCOCK AG RESEARCH STATION FIELD DAY Hancock, WI

Managing Editor jkertzman@wisconsinpotatoes.com


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Interview PAUL SOWINSKI,

vice president, Sowinski Farms, Inc. By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater

NAME: Paul Sowinski TITLE: Vice president COMPANY: Sowinski Farms, Inc. LOCATION: Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and Charleston, Missouri HOMETOWN: Sugar Camp, WI YEARS IN PRESENT POSITION: 33 SCHOOLING: Associate degree from Fox Valley Tech in agri-business ACTIVITIES/ORGANIZATIONS: Member of Sugar Camp Town Board, Sugar Camp Youth Club, Sugar Camp Snowmobile Club and St. Kunegunda Church AWARDS/HONORS: 2012 Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Young Grower of the Year, WPVGA Board, 2009 Frito-Lay North Central Region Grower of the Year, Snyder’s Lance Transportation Supplier of the Year (Sowinski Trucking), 2012, 2014 and 2015 FAMILY: Married to Tunie, and four children, Lauren, Maddie, Brad and Kara HOBBIES: Hunting, fishing, cranberry farming and raising beef cattle 8

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Paul Sowinski is proud of the fact that his father, Alvin, worked in conjunction with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) to promote washed potatoes for chipping. “They proved that washed potatoes save chip companies 50-70 cents per hundredweight,” he says. “Sowinski Farms is still working with the University of Wisconsin and other research facilities to breed better varieties, not only for the grower, but also for chip companies and consumers.” Sowinski Farms signed its first contract with Frito-Lay in 1955 and received the company’s North Central Region Grower of the Year award in 2009. Henry and Evelyn Sowinski started the farm, in 1932, where they logged, grew Christmas trees and raised dairy cows. Alvin and David (Sonny) began the potato operation with Henry in the late 1940’s. CHIPPING QUALITY RESEARCH “At that time, Sowinski Farms’ leaders saw the need for research in the areas of chipping quality, and, perhaps by researching a better chipping potato, improved storage conditions, better handling and

increased volume equipment,” Paul relates. “While working towards those goals, Sowinski Farms was the first grower to ever contract with Red Dot Foods,” he adds. In the late 1980’s, potato chip sales increased across the country to a maximum number. “There was a need for the key raw material to fill the fourth of July window,” Paul explains. “That provided an opportunity for Sowinski Farms to expand to another growing area.” “So, in 1985, Sowinski Farms began farming in Southeast Missouri,” he continues. “Volume at the Missouri location continues to increase each Above: Is there a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow? This issue’s interviewee, Paul Sowinski, hopes so, as the beautiful picture of the potato field under the rainbow was taken at the Sowinski Farms location in Charleston, Missouri, where potatoes are harvested and immediately shipped.


year. We currently have the capacity to load up to 100 trailers per day.” Paul, Alvin, Greg and John operate the farm, along with some 4thgeneration family members, and Sonny has recently retired. “We are fortunate to have many other family members and employees who have helped us over many years of operation,” Paul stresses. What is grown at each location, and what does each location specialize in? We grow chip potatoes in Rhinelander and Missouri, and our seed potatoes are grown in Rhinelander and Antigo.

All the potatoes are delivered and cooked within 48-60 hours from when they were harvested. Most of the equipment we utilize in Missouri, we transport from Wisconsin. Our Missouri location allows us to be a 12-month supplier of chip potatoes. Our customers like that we can deliver to them year-round from different locations. Does it help with supply, shipping and marketing? Charleston is centrally located among several chip plants, so being located there

Above: Potatoes are planted at Sowinski Farms in Charleston, Missouri, a city that is located near several chip processing plants, an advantage for shipping. Harvest season in Missouri (June and July) is also during peak demand for chip consumption.

helps with shipping. Harvest season in Missouri (June and July) is also at peak demand for chip consumption. Looking at your total operation, what does Sowinski Farms specialize in or excel at compared to other growing operations? We not only grow chip potatoes, but we also continued on pg. 10

How many acres of seed potatoes do you grown versus non-seed chipping varieties? Most of the acres we grow are chip potatoes. We grow about 4,500 acres per year, with 3,000 acres of that in Missouri. About 500 acres of seed potatoes are grown each year. Do you have rotational crops or other cash crops, and how many acres? The rotational crops we grow include corn, soybeans, seed peas, alfalfa, clover, oats and wheat. We grow about 4,800 acres of rotational crops each year. Explain the Charleston, Missouri, operation and why you’re growing there. In Missouri, the potatoes are harvested and immediately shipped.

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 9

Left: Paul’s son, Brad (left), and father, Alvin (right), check out the 2019 potato crop on Sowinski Farms. Years ago, Alvin worked in conjunction with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) to promote washed potatoes for chipping. Right: Alvin Sowinski does his best James Dean lean against the farm’s International Harvester truck in a historic photo.

own and operate Sowinski Trucking, meaning that we deliver our potatoes on our own trucks. I think that is an advantage for us, and our customers like that attribute. What are your ultimate goals as far as growing and marketing potatoes? Our ultimate goals are maintaining

relationships with producers of potato chips and delivering to them the quality and service they demand. Do you store potatoes, and if so, how long can they stay in storage? We store chip potatoes. We usually finish shipping out of storage the first week of June, meaning the potatoes

can last up to nine months in storage. How many semis does Sowinski Trucking send out and where do you ship to? We dispatch up to 60 trucks during certain times of the year, and ship throughout the Midwest, as well as the Southeastern part of the United States.

continued on pg. 12

Above: Paul and Tunie Sowinski’s youngest daughter, Kara, poses in a potato field. Left: Chipping potatoes go into the storage warehouse on Sowinski Farms, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in 2018. 10 BC�T September


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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 10

Paul Sowinski says being able to deliver potatoes in the farm’s own trucks is an attribute that customers appreciate.

What are your biggest challenges? I think the biggest challenge is managing people and having all the right people in the right place at the right time. Several of our employees are family members, and many of our employees travel to Missouri for harvest.

Advanced equipment such as this new Lenco harvester allows Sowinski Farms to harvest more acres with less personnel.

We can now farm more acres with less personnel because of advanced equipment and technology.

It is difficult to find skilled labor and employees who are willing to work long hours.

What do you take most satisfaction or pride in? I take most satisfaction or pride in growing a good crop and delivering quality to our customers.

So, what innovations or technologies do you enjoy that you didn’t two generations ago? There are a couple innovations that we enjoy today that we didn’t in the past. One of them is GPS in our field equipment. Another is optical sorting equipment in our storage facility. Both of those make operations much easier.

How many full-time, part-time and seasonal staff members do you employ? We have about 50 fulltime and 80-100 seasonal/part-time employees.

How have things changed as far as growing and harvest? Equipment and technology are the biggest changes.

What other challenges do you face today that you didn’t in the past? Today, our biggest challenge is labor.

Why do you think people are satisfied doing business with Sowinski Farms? I think they are satisfied with Sowinski Farms because we have earned their trust over several years of business. Our customers know that we will

Above: The purple flowers are majestic on this close-up image of potato plants. Left: This photo is of Henry Sowinski, his sons, Alvin and David (Sonny), and one of his grandsons in a field. 12 BC�T September


There’s nothing quite like a golden wheat field. Rotational crops on Sowinski Farms include corn, soybeans, seed peas, alfalfa, clover, oats and wheat.

deliver quality on a consistent basis. Do you have any short-term or longterm goals for the farm? Every day, we try to be the best chip supplier we can be. Our long-term goals include

Equipment has come a long way since this photo was taken on Sowinski Farms, making operations easier albeit not quite as nostalgic.

continuing to upgrade equipment and work with researchers and organizations to develop new varieties. What do you hope for the future?

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The Crowds Came and the Field Days Flourished Growers, researchers and industry players attend Hancock and Antigo field days By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater Build it and they will come has been a theme as of late. Recently, Major League Baseball announced a 2020 “Field of Dreams Game” to be held between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees at a stadium being built in the Iowa corn field where the movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed. The Hancock and Antigo Agricultural Research Stations and university

researchers have built a few fields of their own, which recently attracted crowds for field days on July 18 (Hancock) and July 25 (Antigo). Felix Navarro, superintendent of the Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS), and Troy Fishler, research manager for the onsite Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Facility, welcomed guests and gave equipment,

personnel and research updates. A 412-acre vegetable research farm located in the state’s Central Sands region, work at HARS focuses on developing and evaluating ways to sustainably grow vegetables in the region’s sandy, fast-draining soils and high-water table, including more effective approaches to manage nutrients and pests. The station hosts field trials for a wide variety of crops, including potatoes, snap beans, sweet corn, beets, carrots, onions and other specialty crops, as well as field corn and soybeans. Above: The Hancock Agricultural Research Station Field Day celebrated more than a century of partnership among University of Wisconsin researchers, growers, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association and the industry at large. Left: Standing behind several varieties of yellow potatoes, Felix Navarro, superintendent of the Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS), detailed performance of potatoes from North American and European Sources.

14 BC�T September


Guests enjoyed wagon tours to the fields and researcher presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from irrigation, nitrogen and spacing trials to potato post-harvest physiology and performance of potato varieties from north American and European sources. Other topics included weed management and vine desiccation, field diseases and management, seed potato certification, potato breeding, soil health and a “U.S. Potato Genebank Show and Tell.” Visitors were introduced to Dr. Renee Rioux, who joined the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison Department of Plant Pathology as an assistant professor in research and teaching roles, and as the new director of the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program. RAINFALL SIMULATOR As tractor-pulled wagons made their way back from the fields, one last stop included an “NRCS [National Resource

Several HARS Field Day attendees and guest speakers mentioned how beautiful and well maintained the research station fields and grounds looked.

Conservation Service] Rainfall Simulator Demonstration” by Meagan Hoffman from the U.S. Department of Natural Resources. The simulation demonstrated how water, nutrient and chemical runoff is

greatly reduced in undisturbed soils with little-to-no tillage or fields with cover crops versus soil that has been conventionally tilled and has little to no cover or plant residuals left on it. continued on pg. 16

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The Crowds Came and the Field Days Flourished. . . continued from pg. 15

In his new role as station manager of the Langlade County Agricultural Research Station, Cole Lubinski welcomed guests to the Antigo Field Day and thanked local businesses and industries for their continued donations and support.

Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Executive Director Tamas Houlihan updated HARS Field Day attendees about ongoing funding for research projects, varietal trials, Variety Data Management Software and more.

Nature for a nice day, noting how fantastic the research station looked and had been maintained, and expounded on a successful Putt-Tato Open fundraising golf outing (see complete coverage of it in “Eyes on Associates” this issue.)

WPVGA Associate Division President Kenton Mehlberg thanked Mother

Mehlberg also presented checks from the Associate Division to Navarro to

be used for research projects and equipment at HARS, as well as to Cole Lubinski, new station manager for the Langlade County Research Station, and later to Becky Eddy, superintendent of the Rhinelander Ag Research Station. Mike Mosher, a compliance specialist for food safety with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer

Above: HARS and Antigo (shown) Field Day attendees were introduced to Dr. Renee Rioux, newly assigned director of the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program who joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Plant Pathology as an assistant professor in research and teaching roles. Left: John Bamberg put a new twist on researcher presentations during the HARS Field Day, formatting his segment as a “Potato Genebank Show and Tell." 16 BC�T September


Protection invited growers to attend an afternoon demonstration about how to prepare for anticipated onfarm reviews and inspections as part of the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety and Modernization Act and the Produce Safety Rule. Director of the UW Ag Research Station network, Mike Peters gave a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences update and talked about the Wisconsin Idea of university research as a public service. He lauded collaboration, as well as putting research into the control and hands of the growers themselves. True to tradition, the Associate Division also sponsored a delicious chicken and ribs lunch with all the fixings as prepared by Swine & Dine, complemented by freshly picked sweet corn. ANTIGO FIELD DAY In his new role as station manager of the Langlade County Agricultural

Meagan Hoffman from the U.S. Department of Natural Resources conducted a “Rainfall Simulator Demonstration” for HARS Field Day attendees, demonstrating water, nutrient and chemical runoff from differently tilled and covered soils.

Research Station, Lubinski welcomed guests to the Antigo Field Day and thanked local businesses and industries for their continued donations and support.

In particular, he extended gratitude to the Wisconsin Potato Industry Board, WPVGA Associate Division, Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association, continued on pg. 18

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The Crowds Came and the Field Days Flourished. . . continued from pg. 17

Dr. Amanda Gevens gave HARS Field Day visitors updates on field diseases and management, including information about recent isolated and controlled detections, in Wisconsin, of the U.S. 23 strain of late blight in potato and tomato.

Daniel Heider from the UW Integrated Pest Management Program gave potato herbicide suggestions to Antigo Field Day attendees for use during an unpredictable year.

Dr. Yi Wang, UW Horticulture, updated Antigo Field Day visitors on her department’s potato sustainable production research.

UW-Madison’s Dr. Jeff Endelman took the opportunity at the HARS Field Day to present a “Potato Breeding Program Update.”

During the HARS Field Day, WPVGA Associate Division President Kenton Mehlberg (right) presented a check to Cole Lubinski (left), new station manager for the Langlade County Research Station, to be used for research projects, equipment and other needs. Checks were also presented on behalf of the Associate Division to the HARS and Rhinelander Ag Research Stations.

18 BC�T September

No Antigo Field Day is complete without a presentation by Dr. Russ Groves, UW Department of Entomology, on insect control in potato.


Insight FS, Quinlan’s Equipment, Riesterer & Schnell and Langlade County. With a solid grower, public and industry turnout, the wagons were full for researcher field presentations that began with a potato disease update by Dr. Amanda Gevens of the UWMadison Plant Pathology Department. RPE, Inc.’s Mike Copas reviewed seed physiology and variability management; Daniel Heider from the UW Integrated Pest Management Program gave suggestions for potato herbicides in an unpredictable year; and Dr. Russell Groves, UW-Madison Entomology, talked about insect control in potatoes. Dr. Yi Wang, UW Horticulture, outlined her department’s work on potato sustainable production research, and HARS’s own Navarro detailed performance of domestic and foreign potato varieties.

Food and refreshments followed, as provided by Insight FS, at East City Park in Antigo, where growers and associates gather each year for some much-needed rest, relaxation and camaraderie. All anticipated and predicted a

Above: Dale Bowe (left) of Wisconsin Public Service and Chris Brooks (center), Central Door Solutions and WPVGA Associate Division Board, served freshly picked sweet corn for lunch at the HARS Field Day.

successful and safe homestretch for the potato and vegetable growing and harvest seasons.

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BC�T September 19


Now News

Potato Growers Get Payload Where It Needs to Go Burbank Express relies on Trinity trailers to serve customers 24 hours a day It’s all just another day in the life of Burbank Express, a Manitoba, Canada-based transportation company specializing in helping potato producers get their payload wherever it needs to go. Whether hauling from field to shed, between sheds, or shed to processing plant, Burbank Express relies on Trinity trailers to serve customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “You deal with the roads. You deal with the climate. But you just have to keep going,” explains Jeff Jeanson, general manager for Burbank Express. Founded in 2005, Burbank Express primarily hauls potatoes bound for Simplot’s processing plant in Portage la Prairie, about 50 miles west of Winnipeg. Key to the company’s success is the ability to maximize efficiency despite the often-challenging conditions. It’s a team effort that includes dedicated drivers, dispatchers, mechanics and a fleet of more than 30 custom Trinity trailers with insulated bottoms, twofoot insulated top extensions and top tarps. This design allows Burbank Express to

20 BC�T September

maximize each load while eliminating the risk of the belt freezing in Manitoba’s harsh winters. “We’re allowed take a lot more weight than a lot of places,” Jeanson says. “Trinity trailers don’t have a problem handling it.” LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN Even with the customization, it is Trinity’s standard features on the trailers that Jeanson and his team count on day-to-day. The lightweight design, for example, allows Burbank Express to take full advantage of Manitoba’s higher—compared to most of the United States—weight restrictions. “I don’t care if you’ve been in this business for five or 15 years,” Jeanson says, “you can load the same way for the same guy for years and all of a sudden you end up with a load with more moisture content, and it can get you very close to being overloaded.” Trinity’s lighter bridge design, Jeanson says, helps ensure none of that weight is wasted on the trailer. Trinity’s design also helps this 24-hours-a-day operation reduce repairs and increase uptime, according to Jeanson. “We obviously deal with

Above: Whether hauling from field to shed, between sheds, or shed to processing plant, Burbank Express relies on custom Trinity trailers with insulated bottoms, two-foot insulated top extensions and top tarps to serve customers seven days a week.

different country roads and we like how the flexibility reduces cracking on the trailers,” he says. Less time in the shop means more time serving customers, and Burbank Express serves a lot of customers. During its 10 years in business, the company have more than tripled in size. This success and the company’s dedication to its community (they support several local nonprofits and events) have earned Burbank Express a tremendous reputation in the industry. And since the beginning, Burbank Express has invested exclusively in Trinity trailers to help them grow. “We like keeping everything the same,” says Jeanson. “The guys find them easy to operate and now that we’ve been established for 10 years, having the same trailers makes it a lot easier to manage maintenance. We haven’t had any issues.”


Trembling Prairie Farms Now Harvesting Celery Locally grown celery serves the Midwest retail and foodservice markets

of Wisconsin-grown potatoes and onions, and provider of fresh, quality produce.

Trembling Prairie Farms, Inc. is in full swing harvesting new crop Wisconsin celery. Now through the first week of October, celery lovers will be able to find Wisconsin celery at Aldi, Meijer, Woodman’s and select retail grocers throughout the Midwest. Located in the muck soils of Green Lake County, Trembling Prairie Farms, a family farm owned and operated by John and Connie Bobek along with their four children in Markesan, is in its eighth year of growing and packing locally grown celery serving the Midwest retail and foodservice markets.

In 2012, Trembling Prairie Farms started with three acres of celery and today has expanded to over 45 acres. The farm starts with a Midwestern selected celery variety that grows extremely well in the Wisconsin climate.

Look for Trembling Prairie Farms celery now through the first week of October at Aldi, Meijer, Woodman’s and other select retail grocers throughout the Midwest.

by Alsum Farms and Produce, based in Friesland, a leading fresh The locally grown celery is distributed market grower, packer and shipper 19-10 Badger Common'Tater 1-4page AD (7x3).v1.outlines.pdf 1 2019-08-12 11:40

One of many advantages Trembling Prairie Farms brings to the local market is celery at its peak freshness for a milder flavor and snappier crunch. AM

continued on pg. 22

BC�T September 21


Now News. . .

continued from pg. 21

TRANSPLANTING PROCESS The process of growing celery starts in local greenhouses in late February to early April and is then transplanted in 12 plantings. Celery planting in the muck soil begins on May 1 with the goal of the last being in the ground by July 1. “We’re happy to be able to bring our locally grown Wisconsin celery to the market,” John says. “Whether paired with peanut butter as a healthy kid-

friendly snack, chopped in a salad for an outdoor gathering or as the key ingredient for the latest juicing craze that’s boosted celery to new heights, Wisconsin celery offers a fresh taste for consumers looking for locally grown.”

average of 6 pounds of fresh celery annually.

Two medium stalks of celery offer many nutritional benefits, including vitamin C, potassium and 2 grams of fiber, all for only 20 calories. In the United States, consumers eat an

For more information on Trembling Prairie Farms Wisconsin-grown celery, visit www.tremblingprairiefarms.com or distributor partner Alsum Farms & Produce at www.alsum.com.

With its many nutritional benefits and versatility, this crunchy, fiberfilling vegetable is delicious and good for you.

WPVGA Past Presidents Golf Together in Iola

Current and past WPVGA presidents, families and associate members hit the links There was a solid turnout, August 7, for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) “Past Presidents Golf Tournament” held at Glacier Wood Golf Club in Iola, Wisconsin. The annual tournament honors the current and past presidents of the WPVGA, who often invite their spouses and significant others. The storms held off just long enough to get the event in, which was a good opportunity for the potato and vegetable growers to catch up and have some fun. In addition to WPVGA members, Associate Division members and spouses who joined in, the past presidents participating in the golf tournament included Mike Carter, Steve and Andy Diercks, Mark Finnessy, Bob Guenthner, T.J. Kennedy and Eric Schroeder. Played as a three- or four-person “scramble,” taking first place with a score of nine under par was a team made up of Alex Okray, Kenton Mehlberg and Schroeder. A day that began with a WPVGA Board meeting ended with dinner at the course and anticipation of playing another round in 2020. 22 BC�T September

Past presidents of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association who participated in the golf tournament, August 7, are, from left to right, Andy Diercks, Steve Diercks, T.J. Kennedy, Mark Finnessy, Eric Schroeder, Mike Carter and Bob Guenthner.

Past WPVGA President Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Brothers Farms in Antigo, Wisconsin, tee’s one off on the par 4 first hole at Glacier Wood Golf Club in Iola.

Bob Guenthner of Guenthner Potato Company, Antigo, made this putt, much to the delight of his foursome during the WPVGA Past Presidents Golf Tournament, August 7.


Financial Help for Farmers with Flooding

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is option for landowners For many Wisconsin farmers, the weather this year has made planting some of their fields very challenging. The state of Wisconsin has an option for landowners with fields next to ditches, streams, lakes or wetlands. This program is called the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Enrollment for the program was opened on June 3, 2019, after being closed for eight months waiting for the passage of the new Farm Bill. Under this program, landowners can enroll with a 15-year contract or perpetual easement. There is no minimum on the number of acres

needed to enroll in the program and the land adjacent to the acreage can remain in production. In exchange for a per-acre payment, the landowner agrees to plant grass filter strips or trees and shrubs to act as buffers between the water and the farmland in production. Enrollees are eligible to receive at least three types of payments: 1. Annual payments for cropland range from $95 to $300 an acre, with an average of $200. For pastureland, the payments are $45 to $80 an acre, with an average of $60.

continued on pg. 24

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program provides an opportunity for growers to get some guaranteed income from land that is otherwise prone to flooding and producing low yields.

BC�T September 23


Now News. . .

continued from pg. 23

2. One-time incentives are based on the average rental rate of the enrolled land. These payments average $250 an acre for 15-year contracts and $2,000 an acre for perpetual easements. 3. Practice payments—the CREP will cover at least 70 percent of the costs of installing the required conservation practices. A total of 54 counties in Wisconsin have at least some land that is eligible for the program. To be eligible, the land must have been in crop production for four out of the six most recent years or qualify as

marginal pastureland. In addition, the land must meet the minimum distance requirements to streams or bodies of water. A typical CREP site will usually consist of a buffer ranging from 20 to 150 feet wide along streams and cover an average area of 10 acres per participant. This is another opportunity for landowners to get some guaranteed income from land that is otherwise prone to flooding and producing low yields. For more information on the program or to see if your land is eligible, go

to www.datcp.wi.gov and search for CREP or contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. Contact a talented agribusiness accountant at KerberRose to learn more about our accounting services by visiting www.kerberrose.com. KerberRose: Your Trusted Advisor. About the Author Brian Lange manages the Clintonville office of KerberRose and works with a variety of smallto medium-size businesses, providing financial statement preparation and tax planning and compliance services. With his background in agriculture, Brian provides a level of service to the local farming community that is not always available at other accounting firms.

NRCS Offers Funds to Restore Flood-Prone Lands Eleven states, including Wisconsin, identified to invest in floodplain easements In response to recent flooding impacting many parts of the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces the availability of $217.5 million dedicated to funding conservation easements on certain lands damaged by flooding and other natural disasters. Funds are made available through the floodplain easement component of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP-FPE). The 11 states currently identified for funding are Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. “Landowners across the United States have faced, and continue to face, significant challenges from flooding and natural disasters,” says NRCS

24 BC�T September

Chief Matthew Lohr. “To provide relief and assist agricultural landowners during this difficult time, this easement program offers an option that alleviates the stress of operating in a floodplain while still retaining ownership of their property,” Lohr adds. RELIEF & SUPPORT On June 6, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill providing relief and support to America’s farmers and ranchers. This bill provides $4.5 billion to the USDA for agricultural-related losses, emergency timber restoration, farmland repair and watershed recovery work to help America’s farmers and ranchers. The EWPP-FPE program is a voluntary program through which eligible applicants agree to sell a permanent

conservation easement to the United States through NRCS. Compensation is based on the value of the easement as determined by an appraisal or market analysis. These easements may occur on public or private agricultural land or residential properties damaged by flooding and natural disasters. NRCS will work to restore the easement to its natural floodplain condition. Individuals and communities in any state are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field offices for more information on these floodplain easement opportunities. Property owners interested in applying for EWPP-FPE can review program information on the Floodplain Easement webpage. More information about the EWPP-FPE can be obtained from your local USDA NRCS Field Office.


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People Alsum Farms Associates Named to 40 Under Forty Wendy Alsum-Dykstra and Christine Lindner honored by Produce Business Alsum Farms & Produce is pleased to announce Wendy Alsum-Dykstra and Christine Lindner were named 2019 Produce Business 40 Under Forty award winners. The award recognizes the produce industry’s top young leaders. Honorees are selected based on their professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, and industry and community contributions. “We are honored to have two associates be among this year’s class of Produce Business 40 Under Forty award winners,” says Larry Alsum, president and chief executive officer of Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc. of Friesland, Wisconsin. “Our success over the past 45 years is because of a great team of Alsum employees who are dedicated to serving our customers every day,” Alsum adds. Alsum-Dykstra serves as chief operating officer of logistics and maintenance for Alsum Farms & Produce.

Wendy Alsum-Dykstra

Christine Lindner

She grew up working in the business alongside her father, her sister, Heidi, and other family members, grading potatoes in middle school and later assisting in sales, administrative and accounting support in high school and college.

for Grant Thornton, LLP, but found herself drawn back to the family business.

DRAWN TO FAMILY BUSINESS After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Master of Professional Accountancy degree, Wendy worked as an auditor

She helped lead Alsum’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation and is actively focused on continuous process improvement to package and deliver quality potatoes, onions and other fresh fruits and vegetable to Alsum customers every day.

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Alsum-Dykstra currently serves on Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA’s) audit committee and formerly served on the association’s budget and finance committee. She was a member of the 2019 Potato Industry Leadership Institute. Lindner serves as marketing manager at Alsum Farms & Produce, the innovative Wisconsin grower, packer and shipper of potatoes, onions and provider of fresh, quality produce. Christine grew up on her family’s fourth-generation dairy farm and graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural journalism.

recognized at an award ceremony at 2019 PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California, in October. To learn more about Alsum Farms & Produce, its full line of products or for delicious potato recipes, visit www. alsum.com.

About Alsum Farms & Produce Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc., is a grower, packer and shipper of potatoes, re-packer of onions and a wholesale distributor of a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables. Headquartered in Friesland, Wisconsin, Alsum Farms is also a member of the eco-friendly Wisconsin Healthy Grown® potato program.

More Efficient

AG AMBASSADOR In 2010, she served as Wisconsin’s 63rd Alice in Dairyland. As Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, she communicated how the state’s diverse agriculture industry strengthens local communities, economies and benefits every Wisconsinite. Lindner joined Alsum Farms & Produce in 2013 to serve national accounts and execute marketing and public relations. Christine now manages the brand, trade shows, events, promotional materials, public relations, website and social media. She has held leadership roles in the Association of Women in Agriculture, National Agri-Marketing Association and the Wisconsin Association of FFA. Christine has been bestowed the American FFA Degree, Honorary Wisconsin FFA Degree and the Wisconsin FFA Distinguished Service Award. Christine currently serves as the promotions chair for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association. Wendy and Christine will be

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BC�T September 27


Eyes on Associates

2019 Putt-Tato Open Was One Spectacular Event Highly anticipated Associate Division tournament raises funds for research, scholarships and more

As they say, “A bad day of golf is better than a good day at work.” But

Above: Representing Volm Companies, Joel Nowinsky tees off from the 484-yard Hole 9, sponsored by McCain Foods, at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids, home to the 2019 Putt-Tato Open.

Sponsored by the Associate Division of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), the annual Putt-Tato Open golf tourney raises funds for initiatives such as college scholarships, agricultural research and donations to several

vegetable growing industry in which they work and hold in high regard.

it wasn’t all fun and frivolity during the 2019 Putt-Tato Open, July 16, at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids. worthy causes throughout the year. A four-person scramble format enjoying its 19th year, the Putt-Tato Open is an opportunity for golfers to not only get together, compete and share experiences and a laugh or two, but to support the potato and

This year, 39 foursomes participated in the Putt-Tato Open, raising over $30,000 for worthy industry causes. Associate Division Board members Julie Cartwright and Kristi Kulas checked groups in and sold mulligans to golfers who either needed them, felt generous in their support of the industry, or both. WPVGA Executive Assistant Julie Braun and Financial Officer Karen Rasmussen, who coordinated the Left: The T.I.P. team, a Silver Sponsor of the 2019 Putt-Tato Open, took time to pose by the company banner. The group includes, from left to right, Max Tatro, Kenton Mehlberg (president of the WPVGA Associate Division), Steve Tatro and Andy Verhasselt.

28 BC�T September


No, you’re not seeing things. Zach Mykisen of Big Iron Equipment is teeing up and swinging away at a marshmallow, part of the “Marshmallow Challenge” hole sponsored by KerberRose, S.C., to see who could hit the white fluff the farthest.

event, set up a sponsored hole booth to sell raffle tickets and visit with golfers throughout the day. Sponsors host a delicious dinner put on by the golf course each year, followed by the announcing of door prizes and the winning teams

of the tournament.

of Wisconsin-Madison.

BRAGGING RIGHTS Though the winners have bragging rights for the rest of the year, it’s evident that golfers largely participate in the tournament and purchase chances to win prizes to support their industry.

Efforts are made to ensure that each hole and every hour of the tournament are enjoyable. Hole sponsors offer gifts, games and refreshments, and in addition to the raffle prizes and a nice dinner, the event includes a lunch sponsored by Rural Mutual Insurance: Zinda Insurance Group of Plover and Jim Wehinger of Adams.

All segments of the potato and vegetable growing industry are represented, from insurance companies to banks, lending offices, real estate agents, fertilizer, irrigation, chemical, implement and equipment dealers, the trucking, storage, building and construction segments, processing, refrigeration, printing, utilities and University

Hole awards for longest drives and putts and being closest to the pins, as well as other monetary prizes are up for grabs to golfers with the best shots and luck of the day. continued on pg. 30

Above: WPVGA Board President Wes Meddaugh of Heartland Farms displays his dented driver for the camera. From the first set his mom bought him, Wes proudly continues to use the 25-year-old Northwestern club. Right: With a score of 16 under par and representing Bushmans’ Inc., winners of the 2019 Putt-Tato Open scramble-format golf tournament are, from left to right, John Hopfensperger, Nic Bushman, Chris Lockery and Derrick Bushman.

BC�T September 29


Eyes On Associates. . . continued from pg. 29

Platinum, silver, drink and appetizer sponsors were Advanced Farm Equipment, LLC; AgCountry and Compeer Financial; Big Iron Equipment and Spudnik; Nachurs; Rural Mutual Insurance; Sand County Equipment and Lemken USA; Syngenta; T.I.P. Inc.; Volm Companies; and the WPVGA Associate Division. A successful fundraiser that would not be possible without contributions

from sponsors and the hard work of the WPVGA Associate Division, the Putt-Tato open generates significant funds that are put right back into the industry. Commitment to the potato and vegetable growing industry is exactly what ensures a large turnout for the event each year and that it will return bigger and better than ever.

Left: Playing for team Spectra Print, Charlie Okray rolls the dice for the chance to win a prize at the Compass Minerals sponsored hole. Right: It was sunshine and smiles for the Big Iron Group during the 2019 Putt-Tato Open, including, from left to right, Bill Zelinski, Corey Steidley, Laura Sommers and Jeff Sommers. Bottom Left: Part of the Little Pine Creek Farms, LLC foursome, Kari Flyte of Flyte Family Farms drives one off the tee.

Above: Dale Sankey of Peoples State Bank proudly displays an issue of the Badger Common’Tater that he had Kenton Mehlberg, who appeared on the cover of that issue (left), autograph for him during the Putt-Tato Open. 30 BC�T September


Top: Brion Hackbarth of Jay-Mar, Inc. does his best dab move, or dabbing, all while holding a ball and putter— impressive! Above: Wisconsin Potato Industry Board member Andy Diercks (left) and WPVGA Board Secretary Mike Carter (right) appreciate a nice day on the golf course.

Above: Bill Spees of team Jay-Mar, Inc. throws a beanbag for the chance to win a prize at the Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative sponsored hole.

continued on pg. 32

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Eyes On Associates. . . continued from pg. 31

Left: Arm-in-arm like best buddies, representing team Spectra Print are, from left to right, Max Hofmeister, Charlie Okray, Mike Toth and WPVGA Executive Director Tamas Houlihan. Right: Disc golf anyone? One of two teams representing RPE, Inc. includes, from left to right, Nate Knutson, Nick Kurzewski, Steve Worzella and Gary Beadles. Bottom: A score of 14 under par was good enough to land the Sand County Equipment team in second place at the Putt-Tato Open. The second-place finishers are, from left to right, Jacob Kringstad, Jarod Cieslewicz, Bob Dorn and Thomas Sitzer.

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During an awards ceremony after dinner, WPVGA Associate Division President Kenton Mehlberg (right) presented Casey Kedrowski (left) with a plaque commemorating the years he served on the Associate Division Board.

After all their hard work coordinating the 2019 Putt-Tato Open, WPVGA Executive Assistant Julie Braun (left) and Financial Officer Karen Rasmussen (right) enjoyed the dinner and awards banquet with Cathy Schommer (center) of Compeer Financial.

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Water Stewards Program Makes Inroads Grower-driven initiative focuses on water stewardship and conservation By Deana Knuteson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (UW) Department of Horticulture, and Jed Colquhoun, professor and extension specialist, UW-Madison Water is a critically important resource in agricultural ecosystems across the United States, and quantity and resource availability are key areas of concern. In Wisconsin, the water quantity issue was tackled by a group working together to develop reasonable

solutions for the long-term viability of the resource. This working group created sustainable options by developing a grower-driven plan, ultimately becoming known as the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program, focused on water stewardship.

The Wisconsin Water Stewards Program started in 2018 with the goal of developing a plan that would allow farmers to be recognized when providing water stewardship and documenting improvements. It is based on progress toward researchbased water stewardship and conservation goals. This led to the Water Stewards tierbased program that is now being used by potato and vegetable growers in Central Wisconsin. Above: The grower-driven initiative known as the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program focuses on water stewardship and sustainable options, such as irrigation drip nozzles (shown suspended vertically) and variable rate irrigation. Left: In Wisconsin, the water quantity issue was tackled by a group working together to develop reasonable solutions for the longterm viability of the resource. Plainfield Lake in Waushara County has sustained high water levels in recent years of heavy and frequent rain events. The image was taken in May 2018.

34 BC�T September


The assessment has two tiers: 1. A base tier that is a practice-based management program leading to long-term water conservation and increased use efficiencies; and 2. A top tier that includes a visit with a water use specialist. The specialist helps design a detailed conservation program focused on regional farm and location-based options that emphasize restoration, ecological principles, stream protection and new strategies based on risk levels associated with farms. This innovative new approach to water quantity stewardship has launched in Wisconsin, and now potato and vegetable growers can use the program to identify where they are on the spectrum of agricultural conservation strategies. The Water Stewards Program

provides flexibility and includes options for all growers—from those who initially want to learn more about stewardship, to those ready to invest in production- and locationbased conservation changes. A key outcome of the Water Stewards Program is the linking of sustainability programs to achieve goals, as supply chain partners are looking for local water stewardship solutions. The program has helped develop a process to work toward comprehensive, informed, researchbased options for water stewardship. With a renewed emphasis on water quality, we are now looking to expand the Water Stewards Program to include quality concerns and options. QUALITY MODULES Through support from the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Water Task

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Force, we have developed new quality modules to be included for water stewardship. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Yi Wang and Matt Ruark have provided key practices that are economical, research based and evaluated to ensure best management water quality while ensuring on-farm conservation approaches. Many of the practices already required within the program are unique in that they promote both water quality and quantity conservation approaches, as well as BMP (Best Management Practices) alternatives. There is a link between water quality and quantity approaches, and we can now use this program to promote positive aspects for farm water conservation and stewardship. continued on pg. 36

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Water Stewards Program Makes Inroads. . . continued from pg. 35

Benefits to growers and the industry include enhanced education, better messaging and increased public relations. For long-term maintenance of the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program, we are working to link it to the existing Healthy Grown program so it can be managed and maintained out of the WPVGA office. PROMOTE ADVANCEMENTS This will allow the industry to maintain the water stewards focus

while also gathering data over time to track changes and promote advancements. The Water Stewards Program will be a requirement of Healthy Grown certification, but it will also be available as a stand-alone program for growers who just want to utilize the tools to track their farm’s progress as well as for their individual promotion and conservation efforts. Next, we are expanding the educational approach by developing

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Above: The Wisconsin Water Stewards Program started in 2018 with the goal of developing a plan that would allow farmers to be recognized when providing water stewardship and documenting improvements.

an on-line course to increase participation in the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program. This program will be a comprehensive, on-line, self-directed course enhanced with detailed onfarm scenarios and outlining the basic principles of water management and conservation. It will not only be targeted to growers, but also to affiliated industries including NGO’s (Non-government Organizations), government agencies and agribusiness clientele. This training will enable farmers and all interested stakeholders to learn about the development of practical, location-based and appropriate techniques for research-based, onfarm water management. The course will be available in early 2020. For more information on the Wisconsin Water Stewards Program, contact Deana Knuteson, UWMadison, dknuteson@wisc.edu, or call 608-347-8236.



Marketplace

By Dana Rady, WPVGA Director of Promotions and Consumer Education

Wisconsin Potatoes Highlighted at Chef Competition All images by WPVGA Spudmobile Assistant Doug Foemmel There’s something exciting about seeing masters of a trade create something unique, creative, unexpected and in a certain amount of time. For me, it’s the cooking shows on TV that have the effect.

Watching skilled artists in the kitchen create something beautiful and delicious in a short amount of time makes me hungry and gives me the desire to either try to make the same thing, put my own twist on the dish

Above: The tasting panel begins at the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition in Elkhorn. Chefs and Wisconsin growers taste and rank the featured russet, gold and specialty potatoes that are boiled and baked unadulterated. Each team ranks the varieties on appearance, flavor and texture. The Potatoes USA tent touts the “What are you eating?” campaign message of “Real Food. Real Performance.”

or perhaps even create something completely different! Regardless, it’s an inspiring feeling. That’s exactly what happened on Friday, July 12, at the Elkhorn Rib Fest in Elkhorn, which hosted the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition.

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Located at the Walworth County Fairgrounds, the Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition featured three chefs from the Elkhorn, Lake Geneva and Madison areas who were each paired with a Wisconsin grower. This year’s team lineup was as follows:


Team 1 o Michael Gatz of Bushmans’ Inc. in Rosholt o Chef Dan Grzenia of The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson Team 2

o Tom Bulgrin of Gumz Muck Farms in Endeavor o Chef Jonathan Mellor of Fiddlesticks Bistro in Elkhorn Team 3 o Christine Lindner of Alsum Farms and Produce in Friesland o Chef David Ross of IDM Hospitality in Madison Each team competed for the highest number of accumulated points in appetizer, main dish and dessert rounds that all featured potatoes as the “stars of the dish.” The featured potatoes were of the Russet Norkotah, Silverton and Burbank varieties from Okray Family Farms in Plover. Additionally, RPE,

There’s no shortage of fun for Team 1. Chef Dan Grzenia, a.k.a. “Buddha,” of The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson (left) and Michael Gatz of Bushmans’ Inc. are one dynamic duo who are ready to win!

Plates are out and ready for Team 2 of the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition. Tom Bulgrin of Gumz Muck Farms (left) and Chef Jonathan Mellor of Fiddlesticks Bistro in Elkhorn are ready to hear what the mystery ingredients are!

Inc. in Bancroft provided Satina and Electra Gold potatoes as well as a medley of red, yellow and purple baby rounds.

the appetizer, 45 minutes for the main dish and 30 minutes for the dessert.

The teams had to prepare each dish within a set time limit—30 minutes for

Each round also included a mystery ingredient that was communicated just prior to the start. continued on pg. 40

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Marketplace. . .

continued from pg. 39

Team 3 of the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition is comprised of Chef David Ross of IDM Hospitality in Madison (left) and WPVGA Promotions Committee Chair Christine Lindner of Alsum Farms and Produce (right). They can’t wait to get cooking, and Merrill (far right) can’t wait to try their dish!

The mystery ingredients this year were Wisconsin-grown cranberries from Grygleski Family Ocean Spray Growers, in Tomah, for the appetizer round; Wisconsin-grown ginseng from Monk Farm, in Kent, for the main dish; and Wisconsin-produced honey from David Koester in Elkhorn

Mad Dog and Merrill hold themselves back from jumping in for a sample of what Chef Dan Grzenia and Michael Gatz are working on at the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition.

for the dessert.

go together.

Perhaps after reading this, you may wonder how someone could incorporate cranberries, ginseng and honey into a potato dish? Well that’s exactly why I picked these items for mystery ingredients, as they are combinations that don’t normally

Furthermore, putting them together requires each team to think outside of its comfort zone. After announcing one of the mystery ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard one team member say, “Well, that changes things!”

The 2019 judges happily dig into each dish as presented at the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition. Pictured from left to right: “Fast Freddy” Beyer of Mad Dog and Merrill, Mike Essman of the Big Green Egg grills, and Alex Okray of Okray Family Farms. Mad Dog and Merrill speak with each judge as part of the Midwest Grill’n episode. 40 BC�T September

It’s time to plate the appetizer for the judges! Tom Bulgrin (left) looks on as Chef Jonathan Mellor plates the cheese-crusted roasted petite potatoes and completes them with a cranberry and bacon dipping sauce.


If you don’t think potatoes and cranberries can mix well, think again! Can’t you just taste that dipping sauce?

WINNING COMBINATIONS Yet, when all was said and done, each team made their combinations work! For example, one team prepared a cranberry and bacon dipping sauce for cheese-crusted roasted petite potatoes as an appetizer. For the main dish, another team prepared forest mushroom gnocchi, made with Wisconsin potatoes, topped with a summer vegetable ragù. Finally, another team created a fresh potato upside-down cake topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce made using Wisconsin honey and cinnamon sugar fried potato peels. Are you hungry yet? Ready to try these at home? Perhaps an even bigger challenge was that the only items each team could use to prepare their dishes were grills provided by the Big Green Egg company and butane burners. Three judges assigned points for each round and team based on creativity, appearance, taste and the probability of someone ordering the dish on a menu. The judges this year were Alex Okray from Okray Family Farms in Plover, Mike Essman of the Big Green Egg grills and “Fast Freddy” Beyer, who plays piano for Mad Dog and Merrill. FULL STOMACHS All three came to the event with their stomachs empty and left with full ones

WPVGA Promotions Committee Chair Christine Lindner (right) gets a workout ricing potatoes for Chef David Ross at the 2019 Wisconsin Potato Chef Competition in Elkhorn.

... and empty plates on the table. That should tell you everything you need to know right there! But what’s even more amazing is that each team’s total points from every round came within six points of each other! As prizes, the growers received an engraved wooden bowl, while the chefs garnered an engraved cutting board along with gift cards and a Wisconsin potato shipping directory. In addition, the judges each received a gift card. The all-encompassing purpose of this event is to create and strengthen direct relationships between Wisconsin growers and foodservice professionals. They are relationships that will help build the excitement to buy local and buy Wisconsin! So, after all this, are you afraid you missed something? Who won and how did each team fare? Well, I don’t know anyone who wants to know the ending before they’ve watched the movie! The good news is that this whole day was captured in a 30-minute television episode of Mad Dog and Merrill’s “Midwest Grill’n” show. While the episode already aired for the first time on July 28, it will air again and can be found on our Eat Wisconsin Potatoes Facebook page

The forest mushroom potato gnocchi with summer vegetable ragù, as prepared by Chef David and Christine Lindner for the main dish round, is captured beautifully in this image.

as well as the Eat Wisconsin Potatoes Instagram page. Here’s to inspiration, innovation and singular creations! What will your next unique creation be with Wisconsin potatoes? BC�T September 41


NPC News

NPC Promotes Hutchins and Alexander Praise and recognition given for their commitment to the industry

On July 25, The National Potato Council (NPC) announced the promotion of Hollee Alexander to the position of Vice President of Industry Relations & Events and Hillary Hutchins to the role of Director, Member Outreach & Programs. “We are extremely excited to make these announcements. The promotions and expansion of responsibilities for Alexander and Hutchins reflect their dedicated commitment to the National Potato Council and the value they bring to the industry overall,” says Kam Quarles, NPC CEO. “It’s very exciting to take on this new

Hollee Alexander has been promoted to National Potato Council (NPC) Vice President of Industry Relations and Events.

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role expanding the NPC’s outreach to the potato industry and to be a part of a strong and energetic team,” Alexander remarks. She has served on the NPC staff for 17 years and is a key figure in cornerstone industry events such as the Potato Expo and the Potato Industry Leadership Institute.

“I look forward to this new role and continuing to work with a great team to serve our members and the U.S. potato industry,” says Hutchins. She has been with NPC for four years, managing activities such as the production of the Potato Statistical Yearbook, NPC Grower-Supporter Campaign and the National Potato Council Potato Political Action

Committee. “Hollee and Hillary delivered great value during my time as a state manager. After I joined NPC in Washington, their contributions became even more obvious and these promotions are clearly welldeserved,” says Mike Wenkel, NPC COO.

Potato Purchases Are Part of Trade Aid The Trump Administration announced, July 25, that $22 million in additional potato purchases is included in a trade mitigation package. These support efforts come from the Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP), which is one of the three elements of the mitigation package. “We appreciate USDA’s recognition

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that our industry is uniquely vulnerable to these trade disruptions. Several of our largest markets are the subject of disputes or impacted by the failure to conclude vital agreements,” says Kam Quarles, NPC CEO. “NPC is strongly committed to favorably resolving each of these disputes in order to regain lost

momentum in key markets,” Quarles adds. Last week, Potatoes USA received an additional $1.4 million under the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) Program. July’s announcement brings the aggregate amount of aid to the potato industry to over $65 million.

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New Products

Mooij Agro Offers VaccTek Condenser Dryer

Machine capable of condensation drying, mechanical cooling, heating and ventilation Longtime manufacturer of airhandling units that exhibit outstanding quality, OC Verhulst partners with Mooij Agro to sell and support the VaccTekÂŽ Condenser Dryer, an all-in-one machine for the storage of agricultural crops. The newly designed VaccTek Condenser Dryer is able to perform all the necessary storage processes, including condensation drying/ post-drying, mechanical cooling, and heating and ventilation using outside air. By combining the strengths of both OC Verhulst and Mooij Agro, the partnership promises to supply the agricultural market with a robust, solid and energy efficient machine, especially in those areas where climate conditions or special crops are challenging.

44 BC�T September

The VaccTek Condenser Dryer boasts a very short drying time, saving up to 70 percent energy. It has a large temperature range of 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit, where no heaters are needed. Up to 720 tons of product in storage can be controlled by one VaccTek Condenser Dryer, which offers a drying capacity of 52 gallons/hour at 70 percent relative humidity. This leads to a higher quality of stored product. COMBINING STRENGTHS This is what you can expect when two leading companies in the field of air-handling units and storage technology combine their strengths. We are very proud of this next step in innovation and technical improvement. Hopefully you can

experience the peace of mind and ease of use when being in full control of drying your crop. OC Verhulst was founded in 1820 and is part of Orange Climate Agri. The Dutch office is located in Drunen and employs 260 people. Mooij Agro BV was founded in 1981, part of Hotraco Group and is located in Horst, The Netherlands. Mooij Agro has a wide range of subsidiaries and distributors all over the world with experienced people in sales, service and support. For more information, please contact Mooij Agro c/o Maarten Mooij, +21 (0) 77 327 50 45, m.mooij@ mooij-agro.com, www.mooij-agro. com, or OC Verhulst c/o Frans van den Biezenbos, +31 (0) 416 672 200, www.orangeclimate.com.


Revysol Fungicide Receives EPA Registration

Active ingredient provides fast-acting disease control for a broad range of crops BASF received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration for Revysol® fungicide, its newest active ingredient (AI). The first and only isopropanol azole of its kind in the market, the AI provides fastacting and long-lasting disease control for a broad range of crops and disease combinations. “Revysol fungicide is the result of years of research and expertise. It was designed to meet the highest level of regulatory standards while helping growers manage their toughest disease challenges, including resistant plant pathogens,” says Paul Rea, senior vice president, BASF Agricultural Solutions North America. “Growers now have access to an outstanding new tool for disease management,” Rea adds. Revysol fungicide has a unique isopropanol link that can flex to control a broad spectrum of fungal diseases and DMI (DeMethylation Inhibitors)-resistant strains. In recent BASF trials, it has shown exceptional biological performance against several economically significant diseases, including northern corn leaf blight, cercospora leaf spot in sugar beets, frogeye leaf spot in soybean and powdery mildew in grapes. For growers challenged with resistance and seeking to maximize their yields, Revysol fungicide offers unique benefits when compared to DMI fungicides, including: • Application for a wide variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, grapes, potatoes and sugar beets • Faster fungicide uptake by the plant, leading to immediate and

powerful disease-protective action • Quick absorption resulting in excellent rain-fastness and low water solubility, allowing the AI to move through the plant for longer residual activity

Growers can learn more about Revysol fungicide by contacting their local BASF representative for more information.

“Revysol fungicide will give growers the confidence to manage disease and resistance effectively while reducing their exposure to weatherrelated risks,” assures Paula Halabicki, BASF technical marketing manager. “The treatment offers longer residual properties than its competitors and protects against many weather conditions like drought, hail, frost and heat,” she says. The AI will be available in several customized products, including Veltyma™ fungicide in corn; Revytek™ fungicide in soybeans; Provysol™ fungicide in potatoes, sugar beets and peanuts; and Cevya® fungicide in grapes, almonds, pome and stone fruit. Revysol, and its related product brands, will be available to growers for the 2020 planting season.

BC�T September 45


Drive Value to Your Farming Oper ation Potential future buyers look for acquisitions that carry minimal business risk By Scott Scheer, Vista Financial Strategies, LLC Value drivers are the intrinsic characteristics of a business that buyers look for when deciding which company to buy and how much to pay.

They are important aspects in a successful sale of a business. Consequently, the business owner, not employees, must create and nurture value drivers.

Value drivers include the following: •A stable and motivated management team •O perating systems that improve the sustainability of cash flows •A solid, diversified customer base • A realistic growth strategy

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• E ffective financial controls • S table and improving cash flow In a strong mergers-and-acquisitions market, buyers compare the relative strength of a company’s value drivers to those of competitors. Buyers tend to want companies that possess all the characteristics of a well-run business. Additionally, tighter credit can Above: Value drivers of a farm or ag business include operating systems that improve the sustainability of cash flows. Joe Bushman of J&J Potatoes loads a planter with cut seed potatoes.


force buyers to use more of their own capital to buy businesses, so they look for acquisitions that carry minimal business risk. Companies with strong value drivers in place carry less risk. Companies lacking one or more of the value drivers simply will not attract interested buyers. This harsh reality means most owners have a lot of work ahead. Regardless of the economic forecast, farm and ag business owners must make time to install and energize their value drivers. Doing so gives owners time to demonstrate the sustainability of the value drivers they create over several years. Potential future buyers of a farm operation or business want to know that the success or growth charted in one year can be sustained over several years. They bank on (and pay for) a business’s potential to

grow under their ownership, so they look carefully at how long the value drivers have yielded positive results.

Above: Potential future buyers of a farm or ag operation tend to want companies that possess all the characteristics of a well-run business.

Experienced business owners know that change takes time. Really experienced owners know that

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BC�T September 47


Drive Value to Your Farming Operation. . . continued from pg. 47

CREATE MORE CASH FLOW Whether they’re interested in selling in the near future or not, it makes eminently good sense for farm operation owners to concentrate on the elements of their businesses that create more cash flow, sustainability and future value (i.e., value drivers). After all, that’s why they’re in business. Working on value drivers also has the benefit of increasing an owner’s flexibility. With value drivers in place, a farm or ag operation owner can respond quickly if things change. “Things” include the health of the mergers-and-acquisitions market or the health of the owner, the sudden appearance of a deep-pocketed buyer, or underlying conditions in an owner’s marketplace. Increasing flexibility also applies to exit planning. With a more valuable

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company, business owners increase their successor options. More valuable companies are attractive to third-party buyers, such as private equity groups, and can often attract recapitalization funds. Finally, when owners concentrate on improving the value drivers of their farm operations or ag companies (in order to increase value), they often explore and pursue strategies they might have ignored in the past. For example, many owners who thought acquiring another company involved too much effort take a new look at growth through acquisition when their future financial well-being is at stake. Installing value drivers in your company or farming operation is the best thing you can do to increase both the salability of your business and its price tag, but doing so

takes time. To learn the best way to get your value drivers in place, contact Scott Scheer, Vista Financial Strategies, LLC, scott@vistafinancialstrategies. com, a member of BEI’s International Network of Exit Planning Professionals™. ©2019 BEI.

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When owners concentrate on improving the value drivers of their farm operations or companies (in order to increase value), they often explore and pursue strategies they might have ignored in the past.

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Badger Beat

You Have Skin in This Game By Paul Bethke, USDA ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit and University of Wisconsin Department of Horticulture

The most critical period

for storing potatoes successfully begins at the termination of the growing season and ends a few weeks after potatoes are put into storage. Carefully timed vine desiccation and harvest, appropriate soil moisture and temperature during harvest, proper adjustment of harvest and transport equipment, and careful loading, unloading and wound healing of potatoes all have positive impacts on how well potatoes store. Skilled operators and a well thought out harvest plan can be the difference between a successful storage season and one where problems frequently develop, and storage management focuses on triage and damage control. Nothing contributes more to successful potato storage than healthy potatoes. A potato that has been handled gently and is undamaged defends itself against disease and maintains quality over an extended period.

harvest, storage and shipping helps to maintain potato quality, an outcome that contributes to the profitability of any operation. Skin set is a process that takes time. The skin is constantly being replaced as a potato enlarges. Rapid increases in the surface area of the potato, such as those that occur during early tuber bulking, are accompanied by rapid replacement and enlargement of the skin and weaker adherence of the skin to the tuber flesh. A durable skin is formed once potato growth stops. This process requires the production and deposition of compounds that tightly bind the skin to the underlying flesh and takes

Dr. Paul Bethke, University of WisconsinMadison Department of Horticulture, presents “Potato Carbohydrates: What’s in the Middle Counts” during the 2018 Grower Education Conference & Industry Show in Stevens Point.

three weeks or more. Preharvest operations, such as flailing and application of vine desiccant, promote skin set by bringing tuber enlargement to a halt. There is no evidence, however, that these operations decrease the time needed to produce the compounds essential for binding the skin to the flesh. continued on pg. 50

Protecting the skin from injury is one of the most effective ways to keep potatoes healthy. Every step of the transition from field to storage should be viewed with a critical eye that searches for ways to reduce skinning, cutting, scuffing and cracking of the thin, multi-functional, amazingly effective, beautiful protective layer that surrounds the potato—the potato skin. Twelve aspects of the potato skin that have a direct influence on the storability and marketability of potatoes are summarized below. Taking care of the potato skin during BC�T September 49


Badger Beat. . .

continued from pg. 49

Exposure to warm and wet conditions caused lenticels on this Lamoka tuber to open. The lenticels have subsequently closed, but their increased size remains apparent.

The potato skin prevents water loss. The skin is impregnated with waxes that make the skin nearly impervious to liquid water. Removal of the skin increases water loss from the damaged area by approximately 500 times.

from potatoes. These losses directly reduce marketable yield and increase the susceptibility of potatoes to black spot and pressure bruise.

Because of this large difference in the rate of water loss, a small amount of skinning can cause a measurable increase in water loss

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Air spaces between the loosely arranged cells within lenticels allow oxygen to enter a potato. Under adverse wet conditions, cells below the lenticel aperture expand and multiply. This process enlarges the lenticel opening and allows for oxygen to enter the potato more freely.

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The skin is a barrier that prevents infection by microorganisms. Specialized compounds within the skin function as physical and chemical barriers that effectively prevent soft rot bacteria from forming and fungal pathogens from gaining access to the flesh of the potato. The potato skin is very thin and delicate. The thickness of the skin varies with variety and tuber age, but the part that is responsible for protection against pathogens and water loss is 6-12 cells deep with a combined thickness of less than 1/64 inch. Damaged skin heals but isn’t as good as new. Potatoes that are skinned or cut will heal by forming a new protective layer. Healed regions do not retard water loss as effectively as the original skin. The healed skin of most red and purple potatoes lacks colored pigments and these unpigmented


regions decrease the fresh market appeal of specialty potatoes. The rate of wound healing depends on temperature. Wounds from scuffing, cuts and skinning are repaired during the wound healing process. The amount of wound healing that occurs in two weeks at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (F) takes approximately one week at 68 degrees F and four to six weeks at 40 degrees. Relative humidity above 80 percent is beneficial for wound healing at all temperatures. The potential benefit of faster wound healing at warmer temperatures needs to be balanced against the increased risk of disease. The potato skin contains pores called lenticels. Lenticels allow oxygen to enter the potato and continued on pg. 52

The Russet Burbank potato at top gets its beautiful pattern from regularly spaced patches of dead cells on the skin. The tiny white spots are lenticels. The photo underneath shows a magnified view of the skin and adjacent tuber flesh in cross section. The part of the skin that protects the potato from dehydration and pathogen infection is highlighted in blue. Brown, dead cells mounded in patches are visible above the protective layer, and starch-containing cells are visible below.

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BC�T September 51


Badger Beat. . .

continued from pg. 51

carbon dioxide, a product of respiration, to leave the potato. Water in the form of water vapor also leaves the potato through lenticels. Each potato contains about 100 lenticels. Small amounts of liquid water can enter through lenticels when potatoes are wet.

Open lenticels are potential sites for pathogen entry. Lenticels open when cells underneath the pores proliferate and burst through the skin. This dramatic event prevents suffocation of the potato by increasing the opening through which oxygen can enter and carbon dioxide exit.

Lenticels open under adverse conditions. Environmental conditions that make it difficult for potatoes to acquire oxygen and dispose of carbon dioxide cause lenticels to open. Such conditions occur most commonly when potatoes are covered with a film of water.

However, open lenticels also create a relatively unprotected pathway for the entry of microorganisms. The conditions that promote lenticel opening, warm temperatures and liquid water, also facilitate infection by soft rot bacteria and other microorganisms.

Warm temperatures are more conducive to lenticel opening than cool temperatures. Lenticels open about three times faster at 68 degrees than at 50 degrees. Under the same environmental conditions, lenticels in younger potatoes open more quickly than lenticels in older potatoes.

Lenticel opening and pathogen infections can result in death of cells near the lenticel and unsightly lenticel spot on potatoes. The skin may contain brightly colored pigments. Red and purple potato skins contain anthocyanins, the same health-promoting pigments

found in grapes and blueberries. Yellow potato skin is thought to contain carotenoids. These compounds are also found in sweet potatoes and winter quash. Dead cells on the surface of the skin have a large effect on the appearance of a potato. Russet potatoes get their characteristic appearance from regularly spaced patches of dead cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin. When few dead cells are present, potatoes have a smooth skin and skin pigments are seen most clearly. The potato sweat is a mystery. The skin can become unset after harvest, and some varieties are more prone to this than others. No one knows what causes this to occur. Potato keeps many secrets, and this is one of them. Wait until skins have reattached tightly before handling.

WPIB Focus Wisconsin Potato Assessment Collections: Two-Year Comparison Month

Jul-17

Aug-17

Sep-17

Oct-17

Nov-17

Dec-17

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Year-to-Date

CWT

1,631,620.99

1,631,620.99

Assessment

$114,203.25

$114,203.25

Month

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Year-to-Date

CWT

1,737,634.84

1,737,634.84

Assessment

$139,082.75

$139,082.75

52 BC�T September


Trends in U.S. Farm Labor Understand H-2A hired labor polices and related issues By Maria Bampasidou and Michael E. Salassi

Reprinted from Choices, a publication of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

The U.S. agricultural sector depends on a stable supply of farmworkers. Regardless of the prevalence of mechanization in many agricultural industries, labor demand is still strong during peak seasons, when the marginal returns from hiring labor are substantial, especially if no other labor is available.

Since 2003, the number of U.S. farmworkers has continuously declined, which is of great concern to labor-intensive agricultural industries such as the fruits and vegetable industry, as well as high-value specialty crops that require hand harvesting. The decline in the number of U.S. farmworkers has been coupled with

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Kristin Tout of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, gives a presentation on labor standards during a Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Business Seminar, in 2018.

a decrease in the supply of local labor in rural areas and firmer enforcement of immigration policies such as continued on pg. 54

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BC�T September 53


Trends in U.S. Farm Labor. . . continued from pg. 53

border patrol and deportation, which mainly affect the labor supply of undocumented workers. These shortages are largely the result of an insufficiently able and willing supply of local and domestic labor. Agricultural operations facing labor shortages have turned to the H-2A guest-worker program to secure needed farmworkers. Though the program offers a solution by mitigating risk associated with insufficient labor, documenting a need for H-2A workers can be cumbersome. Farm operators using the H-2A program need to show that the nature of the tasks performed is seasonal, temporary and tied to the agricultural operation and the labor certification period of employment.

Figure 1: Illustrated are U.S. farm wages and farmworker numbers from 2003-2017. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Employers need to prove that they will not be able to secure local or domestic labor and demonstrate that the hiring of H-2A workers should not

hinder the employment of domestic workers or adversely affect their wage pay scheme in similar jobs. Whether the H-2A program is a

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54 BC�T September


solution to the decreasing farm labor force is still a matter of discussion. The program has been considered as a substitute to local communities or a supplement to the existing workforce and as an imperfect substitute for undocumented workers. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that the profile of the U.S. farm labor force is changing.

(including California, Florida, Washington and Georgia) produce mainly specialty crops, fruits, and vegetables—perishable and highvalue crops that require hand-picking or hand-harvesting. Maintaining a steady farm workforce is an important policy consideration. Securing and retaining farmworkers is

one of the main challenges faced by the U.S. agricultural sector. While they may not require specialized training, agricultural jobs are physically demanding and workers experience heavy workloads, which may deter locals from applying for them.

continued on pg. 56

DECLINING NUMBERS Over the past 15 years, the number of U.S. farmworkers has declined by approximately 12 percent, representing a loss of over 104,000 workers (Figure 1). Changes in farm wages since 2003 are also illustrated in Figure 1. Average farm wages have responded to the decline in farmworker numbers over this period. In 2017, the average U.S. nominal farm wage rate was $13.32/hour, up from $9.08/hour in 2003 (U.S. Department of Agriculture). This average nominal farm wage rate has risen steadily over the period by an annual average of $.30/hour. The recent rise in real farm wages is likely a response to the decline in farmworker numbers. The H-2A program has been active in its most recent form since 1986. H-2A workers account for about 10 percent of farmworkers in the U.S. agricultural sector. Over 2008–2018, use of the H-2A program has increased substantially (Figure 2), implying an increased dependency on the program. The increased interest and use of the H-2A program can be attributed to the success of the program in providing farm operators with workers in times during which securing local labor has not been guaranteed. States that show an increased dependency on the program

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BC�T September 55


Trends in U.S. Farm Labor. . . continued from pg. 55

SUFFICIENT LABOR This results in opportunities for guest workers, demonstrated by the decreased number of farmworkers and the increased use of H-2A. In recent years, the H-2A program has attracted a lot of attention as it has gained momentum and more producers have used it to guarantee timely and sufficient labor. A decrease in farm labor requires farm operators to consider ways to cope with future labor shortages or the continuation of labor shortages. Farm operations that traditionally depend on labor could either switch to non-labor-intensive crops and further introduce technology and mechanization or invest in guestworker programs. Those investing in a guest-worker program need to introduce ways to comply with work regulations and health provisions to workers and to educate personnel to supervise guest workers. Switching to H-2A will also renew discussions on potential adverse effects in the local labor market. The farm sector mainly employs lowskilled workers, which means that the sector draws from the same labor pool as other less labor-intensive industries.

Figure 2: The number of H-2A applications and positions has steadily increased from 2008 to 2018. Source: Annual Report Performance Data, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, USDL, various issues

Considering also the seasonal and temporary nature of the farm activities, the farm sector may not be the first employment choice for these workers. Still, it is unclear whether the program substitutes away from local labor or supplements it. Moreover, to counter labor shortages, producers tend to offer higher wages. The real farm wage has increased in recent years. In many cases, farm wages are above the federal or statelevel minimum wage. Many of the farm operations employing through the H-2A program

offer a higher wage as they need to satisfy the adverse effect wage rate restriction. With many states moving toward a higher minimum wage, adjustments to guest-worker programs may need to take place as an increase in the minimum wage will affect the industries using the H-2A program even more. Employing through a guest-worker program means additional labor costs associated with worker search costs, including advertising, listing agents and immigration lawyers.

SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW WPVGA MEMBERS When you need goods or services, please consider asking our Associate Division Members for quotes or explore what they have to offer. Together, we make a strong organization and appreciate how wonderful we are as a group.

56 BC�T September


COSTS INVOLVED There has been an increase in the number of operations that rely on law firms to deal with the paperwork associated with applying to the program, particularly in recent years. These costs lead to questions about the H-2A program’s effectiveness and efficiency. Recommendations for a revised, more flexible guest-worker program have regularly been brought up as a topic of discussion in the U.S. Senate. Some of the latest recommendations include the introduction of the H-2C program to extend the H-2A program. Still, there are hurdles regarding the proposed bill. Main items on the agenda for the H-2C program included extending the period of employment to satisfy seasonal and year-round jobs; easing the cost of employment and the burden of providing benefits, housing and transportation to guest workers; and allowing experienced undocumented workers to participate in the H-2C program. The program will allow guest-workers to stay year-round on a 36-month, renewable visa. These workers will have to return to their country for at least 60 days before re-entering the United States. Regarding employment costs, employers do not have to use the adverse-effect wage rate but must pay at least 115 percent of the federal and state minimum wage. Also, employers can opt to provide housing and transportation for their workers. H-2C workers cannot bring spouses and minor children unless they also participate in a guest-worker program. In addition, H-2C workers are not eligible for federal public benefits or for federal refundable tax credits.

Regarding unauthorized immigrants, the program provides the opportunity for them to adjust to lawful status and participate in the program legally. Labor shortages are an essential

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BC�T September 57


Potatoes USA News Opportunities for Potatoes on School Breakfast Menus FlavorTrak, a foodservice research firm, released its spring 2019 K-12 menu report on potato trends. The report contains data about potato usage in foodservice operations from the top 100 school districts in the United States. Over the last four years, the percentage of potatoes found on school menus for grades K-12 has fluctuated between 97-99 percent. With only 48 percent of all school districts serving potatoes at breakfast and 100 percent offering them in some form at lunch, the real opportunity to increase spuds on the menu is at breakfast. The preferred form of potatoes at breakfast varies by age group. High

58 BC�T September

schoolers prefer potatoes as an ingredient in popular foods such as tacos and burritos, while elementary

students, who need foods that can be picked up easily, prefer roasted and baked potato formats.


The opportunity lies in the convenience of breakfast foods for staff to prepare. With breakfast moving out of the cafeteria and into the classroom, making portable menu items is ideal. More potatoes can be served at breakfast if they are in packaged heat-and-serve form. Additional highlights from the

report include: • At lunch, mashed potatoes and bowls take the award as the most used potato forms, followed by fries and puffed or shaped potatoes. • Potatoes have the second-highest menu incidence of a vegetable on K-12 menus at 97 percent, behind corn at 98 percent.

• F requency of potatoes on menus is much greater in high schools—3 times per month versus 1.7 times monthly in elementary schools. The report provides comparative menu data tracing back to spring 2015. For a copy of the report, please reach out to Rachael Lynch at Rachael@potatoesusa.com.

continued on pg. 60

WISCONSIN POTATO & VEGETABLE GROWERS ASSOCIATION

PART-TIME SPUDMOBILE COORDINATOR/DRIVER QUALIFICATIONS: This position involves driving the Wisconsin Spudmobile to and from events among other duties. The Spudmobile is a 37.5’ RV containing educational and promotional exhibits related to the Wisconsin potato industry. The successful candidate should have strong communication and public relations skills. A good driving record is essential. Must have or be willing to obtain a CDL. This position requires statewide travel with most work occurring on weekends and in the spring and summer months (March through October). The ability to successfully pass a background check, as well as periodic and random drug and alcohol

screenings is required. Two to three years of related work experience and/ or a working knowledge of agriculture is desired. The individual must be a team player with a positive attitude and an outgoing personality. The individual must be well organized and highly motivated. Computer knowledge is essential. Knowledge of vehicle maintenance is helpful. Successful candidate will be a member of the WPVGA Staff. Hourly wage will be based on qualifications and experience.

Send resume and three references to: WPVGA, attention Dana Rady P.O. Box 327, Antigo, WI 54409 Email: drady@wisconsinpotatoes.com • Application deadline is September 20, 2019 BC�T September 59


Potatoes USA News. . . continued from pg. 59

Wisconsin Reps Elected for Board Seats Elections are complete in Wisconsin for those who will represent the state on the Potatoes USA Board. The elected individuals will begin their term in March 2020. Each term lasts three years with an opportunity to be re-elected for a second threeyear term. No representative can serve for more than two consecutive three-year terms. During their term, elected individuals are required to attend the Potatoes USA meeting held annually in March, and other meetings/events as indicated/requested. As a Wisconsin representative elected to the Potatoes USA Board, individuals are responsible for representing Wisconsin’s interests and keeping the state’s growers informed of how Potatoes USA is fulfilling the state’s interest and maximizing growers’ return on investment. All are grower-leaders who actively participate in local government, cultural or business affairs. In recent years, Wisconsin has been

allotted five seats on the Board. Beginning in 2020, the number of seats will increase to six, which is a direct result of production numbers the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sends to Potatoes USA. These production numbers are based on a three-year average. For the 2020 election, Wisconsin accepted nominations for three of the six seats, as two representatives are completing the third year of their second term, and therefore, going off the Board. Two other representatives are currently up for re-election. The following individuals will begin their upcoming terms on the Potatoes USA Board beginning in March 2020: • Erin Baginski, Baginski Farms (Antigo) – incumbent re-elected for second three-year term • Keith Wolter, Hyland Lakes Spuds (Antigo) – incumbent re-elected for second three-year term • Mike Carter, Bushmans’ Inc. (Rosholt) – elected to first threeyear term

Finally you have a choice

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• Kevin Schleicher, RPE (Bancroft) – elected to first three-year term • Josh Knights, Heartland Farms (Hancock) – elected to first threeyear term Heidi Randall of Alsum Farms and Produce, Friesland, is the sixth board member representing Wisconsin. She will complete the third year of her second three-year term in 2021. A special thank you to Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms in Antigo and Mark Finnessy of Okray Family Farms in Plover. Both are completing the third year of their second threeyear term and will be coming off the Board in March 2020. Over the last six years, they have devoted their time, energy and expertise to the success of not only the Wisconsin potato industry, but also to the success of the potato industry across the nation. “I’ll just say that I appreciated [being] able to serve as a Wisconsin representative on the Potatoes USA Board for the past six years,” Schroeder says. “It’s been eyeopening to see how much time and dedication go into making our grower assessments produce the results that they do both domestically and internationally.” “I know we have a great group of incoming board members who will continue to represent Wisconsin very well,” Schroeder adds. “I would also say it was an honor to be on the Potatoes USA Board for the last six years. It was a very educational experience for me personally and professionally. If I were given the chance to join the Potatoes USA Board again, I would do it in a heartbeat,” says Finnessy. Thank you Eric and Mark for your dedication and commitment!


Ali's Kitchen

Ah … the Good Old Wisconsin Casserole! Potato lovers will enjoy this tasty, traditional, hearty Midwest hot dish summertime treat Column and photos by Ali Carter, Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary The Wisconsin casserole … we all have one … that one dish that we know is sure to please each and every time it’s placed on the table. There’s no need to scour the recipe for measurements; every ingredient amount is there in our memory, a scoop of this and a dash of that. It’s a household classic, easy to make and versatile, a recipe that long ago became a family favorite. Earlier this year, I had the joy of talking with Keith Kelling and his wife, Andrea.

Professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Soil Science, Keith is involved closely with the industry and was more than willing to spend time chatting, less about soil, and more about cooking with America’s most loved vegetable. I learned a bit about the potato dish that is one of his family favorites. The conversation became even more intriguing to me when I learned just how the Kelling family happened to first discover this recipe. OLDIE BUT A GOODIE Potato connoisseurs and longtime readers of the Badger Common’Tater will recognize the name Geri Okray and will probably be just as excited as I was to learn that this recipe was originally found right here in her column a handful of years ago! Since spotting Geri's recipe, the Kellings have made and enjoyed this casserole many times and have shared the recipe with friends along the way. I am thrilled that they took the time to send it my way via email. It’s a deliciously unique blend of flavor with grainy brown mustard and continued on pg. 62

Wisconsin Casserole

• 2 cups sliced potatoes • 1/2 chopped green pepper • 1 chopped small onion • 2 cups smoked sausage or Kielbasa cut into ½-inch slices • 1 tbsp. brown mustard • 1 tbsp. maple syrup • 1/2 cup sour cream • 1/4 cup milk • 1/4 tsp. black pepper • 1/2-to-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese • 1/2 cup cracker crumbs or crumbled potato chips BC�T September 61


Ali's Kitchen. . .

Advertisers Index

continued from pg. 61

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sweet maple syrup, but nothing so unusual that you can’t immediately know that this will be a tasty and traditional, hearty, classic Midwest hot dish. Keith signed off his email with his final thought on this dish, “nothing fancy here, but really good. Hope you enjoy it.” The Carter family agrees, Keith! Very, very good! We’re grateful to Geri for her years of finding and sharing these recipe gems with Common’Tater readers, and to the Kellings for passing along one of their favorites. DIRECTIONS In a frying pan, sauté potatoes, green pepper, onion and sausage for about 15 to 20 minutes. In a 3-quart greased casserole dish, mix together the sautéed ingredients, mustard, maple syrup, sour cream,

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milk, pepper and cheese.

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Sprinkle top with the potato crumbs.

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Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.

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A cooking tip from Keith: “I usually add about double the amount of mustard to give it a little extra zip. We also found that we prefer crumbled potato chips to the cracker crumbs as a topping [obviously our family goes for the extra health benefits].”

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Enjoy!

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Find more recipes at www.LifeOnGraniteRidge.com.

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THANK YOU

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to the 2019 Putt-Tato Open Golf Sponsors PLATINUM SPONSOR Syngenta

SILVER SPONSORS Advanced Farm Equipment, LLC AgCountry FCS & Compeer Financial Big Iron Equipment, Inc. & Spudnik Lemken USA & Sand County Equipment Nachurs T.I.P./AgGrow Solutions/Redox Volm Companies, Inc.

LUNCH SPONSORS Rural Mutual Insurance: Zinda Insurance Group, Plover, WI Jim Wehinger, Adams, WI

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RAFFLE PRIZE SPONSORS • Case IH Battery Powered Tractor – Service Motor Company • Stoeger Shotgun – WPVGA Associate Division • Browning Rifle – WPVGA Associate Division • Kinn’s Sport Fishing Charter – I State Truck & Sand County Equipment • Golf Gift Certificate – The Ridges • Spa Gift Certificate – Wellness Spa & Rural Mutual Insurance-Sally Suprise • LG Smart TV – WPVGA Associate Division • GT Palomar Bicycle – Campus Cycle & WPVGA Associate Division • Cranberry Wine from Three

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HOLE SPONSORS Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative Allen Supply Company, Inc. Altmann Construction Company, Inc.

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