Central Wisconsin is the prime growing region for Wisconsin potatoes and vegetables; it has it all–pristine landscapes, great outdoor activities, and valuable farmland. Thankfully, due to the innovative work of the industry, these lands are striving to be sustainable for the long-term.
In 2013, the Wisconsin potato industry developed a proactive approach to document the sustainability of how the growers manage their farms. Working through the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), in partnership with the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), the industry assessed the sustainability of the practices currently used on potato farms throughout the state. The assessment used an entry-level NISA approach to generate maximum grower engagement in the sustainability arena. Seventy-one growers returned assessments representing 56,785 acres of potatoes (90% of the total Wisconsin acreage). Growers from the fresh (20,400 acres), chip (17,900 acres), frozen (10,400 acres), and seed markets (7,400 acres) participated in the assessment to provide an accurate representation of the industry as a whole. Since the NISA survey process includes a detailed documentation of sustainable practices used by growers across the whole farm enterprise in addition to the potato crop, this assessment represented over 200,000 total farmland acres.
Of the assessed Wisconsin’s potato farms, 100% are family owned with an average of over 53 years farming. On average, 2 to 3 generations of family members are actively working and involved in the farming operations, which is an encouraging sign for the continuing sustainability of Wisconsin’s vegetable production industry. (more…)