IPC swears in first female board member
By John O’Connell
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Potato Commission has sworn in three new commissioners, including its first female board member.
Peggy Grover, assistant manager of BenchmarkPotato in Rexburg, recently finished a year-long term as chairwoman of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.
Aberdeen farmer Ritchey Toevs, who was vice president of trade affairs of the National Potato Council and co-chairman of U.S. Potato Board’s International Marketing Committee, and Tommy Brown, who works for Lamb Weston in Pocatello and serves as chairman of the Raw Products Committee for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, were also chosen.
Peers nominated three candidates for each open position, and Gov. “Butch” Otter’s office made the appointments. Terms span three years, and commissioners are then eligible for a second three-year term.
Grover will serve as vice-chairwoman of the IPC’s Retail Committee.
“This is breaking new ground, which I’m thrilled about,” IPC President and CEO Frank Muir said of having the first woman on the commission. “She was very well qualified for this position, and she will bring a feminine perspective, which I think will be very helpful when you consider our advertising target market is women 25-55 with children at home.”
Grover started working with BenchMark Potato, a fresh packing facility, a year after a group of growers formed it two decades ago. Grover said her facility is beginning to ship small volumes into Mexico and sells some spuds to retailers, but its major market is small food service providers. They specialize in Russet Burbanks, and also sell some Russet Norkotahs.
Having written her company’s checks to the IPC, she believes it will be fulfilling to also help invest those funds.
“I’m really proud to be the first woman,” Grover said. “It’s a great time in the industry, for all of produce, for women to get into agriculture. I think there’s a lot of openings for women.”
As a commissioner, Grover said she’ll make it a priority to stay current on prices at which growers and shippers can turn a profit. She also vows to study the contributing factors whenever Idaho prices dip below levels of other states. She believes Idaho’s growing emphasis on new varieties bodes well for the industry’s future.
Toevs, who raises potatoes for processing, was traveling in Japan for USPB at press time. He will head IPC’s Research & Education Committee.
“He’s a very well respected, very thoughtful thinker in terms of issues,” Muir said. “I think Ritchey will be very helpful on our research and education focus.”
Brown, who was also unavailable for comment, was tapped for the IPC’s Ag Affairs Committee.
“One of the things that really impressed me about Tommy, as a processor he really gets the importance of the Idaho brand and promoting Idaho,” Muir said. “Processors do have the ability to draw from a number of states. He truly views Idaho as a strong, powerful brand that can be leveraged by processors.”
Grower Dan Moss is the new chairman, and grower Boyd Foster is vice chairman. Other current commissioners include: Michael Christensen, Jeff Harper, Dan Nakamura and Lynn Wilcox.