Moss, Foster take over spud commission leadership
By John O’Connell
The Idaho Potato Commission’s new chairman and vice chairman believe they possess a broad perspective about their industry because they both raise spuds for the fresh and processed industries.
On Sept. 1, Rupert grower Dan Moss became chairman of the IPC board, replacing Alan Taylor. Rigby grower Boyd Foster replaced Moss as vice chairman. Incoming board members have yet to be approved by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.
Moss, a past president of the National Potato Council and former member of U.S. Potato Board’s International Marketing Committee, also serves on the board of the North American Plant Protection Organization. NAPO is conducting scientific studies to resolve issues that led Mexico to restrict fresh potato access beyond 26 kilometers from the U.S. border.
“It is huge,” Moss said of the trade implications. “It could be as much as a third of our production right now could all go to Mexico.”
One NAPO study is evaluating the duration of sprout inhibitor effectiveness on U.S. fresh table potatoes. Moss explained some Mexican officials fear their growers would opt to plant fresh U.S. table spuds as seed if inhibitors were to wear off too soon, increasing the possibility of virus and disease transmission. Another project is analyzing the best soil sampling methods to detect the presence of nematodes in commercial fields. A third research project focuses on potato viruses.
“Scientifically, we’re really close. It’s the political side that has got us bogged down right now,” Moss said. “I think there will be a resolution at some time, but how soon I don’t know.”
Moss also serves as co-chairman of the Canada-U.S. Potato Committee, which is working to resolve concerns about soybean cyst nematode that periodically block U.S. fresh access to certain parts of Canada. Moss said the committee is also working on language about pale cyst nematode testing in Canadian seed bound for the U.S. He said issues with Canada could be resolved in the coming year.
In addition to operating a fresh packing facility, Moss sells potatoes to all of the major fry processors and three Idaho dehydrators.
“I think that’s going to help me as chairman this year to direct dollars so they will give the most value to the industry,” Moss said.
Moss believes IPC, which has an annual budget of about $14 million, has invested its money wisely, generating more exposure than growers may realize through programs such as the Big Idaho Potato Truck.
“It is absolutely amazing how much publicity we’re getting for dollars we’re spending,” Moss said.
Foster, who produces about half fresh and half processed spuds, is a former USPB Executive Committee member who chaired the organization’s Domestic Marketing Committee.
“I really love those basic (IPC) programs of research, food service and retail,” Foster said.
Foster’s father, who started farming late in life, died when Foster was 14. Foster’s brother, Brad, and mother continued running the farming. Foster got his to farm in 1979 after his family expanded its acreage. He and his brother divided the operation six years ago, with Brad taking over seed potato operations. Foster has a degree in mechanical engineering from University of Utah.