Honoring Leaders in Environmental Stewardship
Each year the National Potato Council recognizes a farming operation that has developed innovative approaches to safeguarding the environmental resources on their farm by awarding the Environmental Stewardship Award.
The 2017 award was presented to Leon and Lance Hapka of HFC, Inc. from Halma, Minnesota. The Hapka family was presented with their award at the 2018 Annual Meeting Awards Banquet on January 12 in Orlando, Florida. To watch a video highlighting their farm click here.
Developing Sustainability Standards:
NPC is involved in a number of different efforts to develop a workable definition of sustainability. NPC is actively participating in the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC), the National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), and the Field to Market project. Potatoes are the first specialty crop to be evaluated using the Field to Market tools. NPC is encouraging these groups to develop a common set of metrics that are grower-friendly, use largely available data, measure results over time, and do not set bright-line standards.
WORKING TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT:
America’s potato growers are proud to produce this staple crop in a sustainable and innovative manner. The National Potato Council
applauds farmers for their commitment to environmental stewardship and for their efforts in reducing pesticide use without reducing yield or quality.
Since 1988, NPC has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the environment and to promote the safe and effective use of pesticides. NPC partners with EPA through the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP), which focuses on reducing the risk from pesticide use in the production of potatoes. This program includes initiatives such as the Environmental Stewardship Award, the Integrated Pest Management Survey, and the Policy Makers and Regulators Potato Field Education Tour.
Integrated Pest Management Survey:
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Survey is completed by growers across the U.S. and evaluates implementation of environmentally responsible practices over time. The survey is an important tool in showing the EPA the potato industry's advancements in environmental stewardship. Growers are able to measure their individual performance over time and compare their adoption of IPM techniques to other potato growers.
The survey is designed to encourage evaluations that lead to innovation and accelerated adoption of decision making criteria that improve the environment, safeguard workers and simultaneously reduce unnecessary costs while maintaining high levels of production efficiency.
Helping EPA Better Understand Production Practices:
NPC is proud of its growers' commitment to the highest environmental standards in agriculture. To showcase the industry’s commitment to protecting the nation’s environment, NPC works with one potato-growing state each year to coordinate the Policy Makers and Regulators Field Education Tour for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives.
By visiting potato fields, storages, and packing facilities, EPA staff gain a better understanding of how their policy decisions impact potato production. Each year this tour proves to be highly beneficial in advancing NPC priorities in Washington, DC.
In 2014, NPC led a delegation of 19 EPA staff on a crop tour of New Jersey’s potato growing region. The tour kicked off at Jim Coombs Farms in Elmer, N.J., where the staff were given an area overview by potato grower and member of NPC’s Board of Directors Jennifer Coombs-Kelly. Agency personnel watched a live demonstration of a potato digger and ground and aerial pesticide application practices. The stop concluded with the staff rolling up their sleeves and using shovels to dig their own potatoes.
The staff also stopped in Bridgeton, N.J., where they visited Seabrook Brothers and Sons, Inc. packing facility. Tour participants saw fresh vegetables being processed and frozen and heard about challenges that must be addressed at the production level such as weed control. Staff later visited a Rutgers University Research Farm where they learned about specific pest and disease challenges faced by fruit and vegetable growers.
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher capped off the night by addressing the staff over the course of dinner, offering his praise of the overall thriving New Jersey agriculture industry. The tour traveled to Nottingham, Pa. the following day where Herr’s snack food plant owner, Gene Herr, led a tour of the potato chip processing facility.