By Daniel Chin
The Oregon Potato Commission was established by Oregon state statute in 1949. As a commodity commission, our goal is to promote, educate and enhance the humble potato to our growers and consumers. We do this in a variety of ways including research, trade development, legislative affairs, public relations and education.
OPC funds and oversees research on pest, disease, production and variety development. Potato research is the top-funded and highest-priority program.
Oregon growers believe that new tools are always required to grow the best potatoes in the world to maintain an advantage over other countries. Our variety development program is breeding potatoes that look good, cook well and taste good.
With new and old pest and disease problems, the scientists at Oregon State University provide controls for these issues.
State and federal participation in potato promotion
Legislative affairs involve both state and federal participation. OPC holds a "Potato Day" at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem by serving fresh baked potatoes, and getting the word out that potatoes are healthy, nutritious and important to the Oregon economy.
Each year, OPC members join potato growers and industry leaders from across the country at the National Potato Council’s Potato D.C. Fly-In in Washington, D.C., to visit with congressional leaders about the current issues facing potato farmers in the U.S. This visit also provides an opportunity to visit with USDA leaders.
The Potato D.C. Fly-In has proved to be a great asset for potato growers to get their word out to continue access for a good labor force, which is very important to everyone in agriculture; and to also discuss free and fair trade agreements, and reduce regulations that have negative consequences for growers and our industry.
OPC works to inspire consumers, retailers and food service influencers to use more potatoes in more ways through TV, radio and social media. “Grown in Oregon” is a local way to promote Oregon potatoes as a healthy and nutritious vegetable for families.
OPC partners with Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom with cash donations, and we also provide “Get Oregonized” classroom books to students in our effort to help them learn about the value agriculture has in our state, country and world. OPC also provides spuds for potato bars at the state Capitol, OSU football games and local schools, which is one of our ways of promoting potatoes to current and future generations.
Chin is chairman of the Oregon Potato Commission.