Knowing Your Roots

Our growing season is finally underway here in Central Wisconsin. One of the really interesting things about agriculture is the incredible diversity of challenges that we have to deal with despite going through the same general process year in and year out.
Potato HandsObviously the nature of growing plants doesn’t change dramatically from year to year: we plant seeds, provide them water while protecting them from pests and disease, and then harvest them. But the details and challenges in the system are constantly changing.
One of the ways we deal with these challenges is by growing within a system known as GAP, Good Agricultural Practices. GAP is a USDA program that came out of their work with researchers at Cornell. It doesn’t matter if our potatoes are going to be made into French fries at the McCain plant in Plover, or made in potato chips at one of the many numerous chip plants across the Midwest, or going to a grocery store in Madison, because all of these food chains require that we farm according the GAP standards.
The GAP program covers a wide range of topics from field selection and history to how and when we clean our equipment to how we treat our employees. It covers almost any activity on the farm related to growing our potatoes and we are audited by the USDA each season so our customers are sure that we are following the program.
It is also continually evolving to include the latest knowledge about how to grow crops in a safe and sustainable manner. To help keep us abreast of the changes our grower association, the WPVGA works with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and USDA to provide annual training for all interested growers.
So while we do go through the same general motions every season, we are continually working to do it the best way possible.

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