Knowing Your Roots

Posts tagged ‘WPVGA’

Water is the Most Precious Resource for Wisconsin’s Potato and Vegetable Growers

Blog 30

Water use is a critical issue in central Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), as well as its grower members are committed to the judicious use of this most precious resource.

WPVGA formed The Water Task Force in 2009 to bring together resources and expertise to foster the sustainable use of water resources in the Central Sands. The committee was also formed to develop and promote responsible water use practices that will protect the groundwater aquifer of the Central Sands and its associated streams, lakes and wetlands.

The goal of the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers is to do this in a way that ensures a sustainable agricultural industry for future generations, fosters vibrant rural communities and respects the needs of all its citizens.

The WPVGA Water Task Force has already made remarkable progress in advancing all of its objectives. For example, to increase understanding of the hydrology of the Central Sands, the Task Force has initiated a program to measure groundwater depths in privately-owned irrigation wells across space and time. They have purchased and installed equipment to continuously monitor groundwater in four areas designated as high risk for surface water impacts. They have also commissioned and funded a study by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to expand understanding of tunnel channel lakes in high risk areas and their interaction with groundwater–this study has since expanded into a significant modeling project funded by NRCS.   (more…)

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From Field to Fork: We all have a stake in a healthy food supply

BeautyFinalLR

Today’s consumers desire to understand the health and nutritional benefits of the produce they buy. That’s why the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), an industry-wide effort aimed at creating a quick and efficient traceability process by electronically tracking produce from the farm fields to supermarket shelves, is vital.

The purpose of PTI is to protect overall consumer health and safety ― an initiative that we at Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc., are involved in and committed to as a Wisconsin potato farmer. The traceability system provides Alsum and other grower’s quick visibility from the packed product back to the farm and field through a lot numbering system to ensure a healthy and nutritious Wisconsin potato.

“As a Wisconsin potato and vegetable grower, we are embracing the new initiative and putting the technologies in place to provide consumers more knowledge and confidence in their potato offerings at the supermarket,” says Larry Alsum, President & CEO of Alsum Farms & Produce. “Alsum Farms & Produce became PTI compliant on December 1, 2013.”

The initiative utilizes GS1 system standards to standardize product information, case level tracking, and electronic recordkeeping to provide traceability from farm to store. The use of standards across the produce industry enhances the ability to narrow the impact of potential recalls or similar issues, protecting both consumers and supply chain members.

The good news is potatoes are rarely consumed raw and as a result, have been classified in the low-risk food-safety category. Yet, consumer health, safety, trust, satisfaction, and loyalty are necessary and important for every supplier to be proactive.

Like Alsum, Wisconsin potato growers, packers and shippers recognize this importance and have taken the Produce Traceability Initiative a step further. With the coordination and assistance of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), the Wisconsin potato industry has conducted education and training sessions to create a common understanding, utilizing a consistent software program and resources to share co-packer product information. This approach has allowed Wisconsin growers, packers and shippers to implement a standardize traceability process and best practices to meet the growing demand for value-added produce.

Consumer’s interest to connect with the farmer and understand today’s farming practices is growing. The Produce Traceability Initiative provides infrastructure, transparency and allows the industry to help provide consumers accurate information about the many health benefits of produce, the advances in technology and sound practices used in bringing wholesome produce to the market.

Thoughts for Food: The growing season may be over but the work goes on!

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It is approaching October in the Central Sands of Wisconsin, and the nights are cool and arriving earlier every day. The growing season is over, and harvest is almost complete.  Potatoes are nestled comfortably in their environmentally controlled storages, vegetables are canned and ready to go to consumers across the US, and the fields are planted with cover crops to protect the precious sandy soil from the winds that will come next spring.  You probably think that the growers are now taking a much needed break from the 18 hour days of a long summer and catching some well-deserved R&R.  No such luxury! This is the 21st century, and the entrepreneurial business of farming is a year round job.  Don’t let the cold weather fool you; the winter season is a busy and active time on the farm.

With potatoes, the first order of business is to manage the crop that growers spent the whole season nurturing and protect it for the next 6 months in storage to meet the year-round demand for nutritious potatoes with that “fresh from the ground” feel that we all want.  This is an enormous task. Wisconsin growers produce over 30 million 100 pound sacks and many of these have to be stored in huge, climate-controlled warehouses where sophisticated control systems maintain precise temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels that keep the crop from shrinking, rotting or developing sprouts.  Each week as orders for fresh and plump potatoes come in from retailers and processors across the country, whatever is needed is withdrawn from storage to be washed, sized, packaged and delivered to customers. Managing this huge investment, valued at over $200 million, through a storage season and delivering it to consumers in prime condition when it is needed guarantees that the growers get little time off to enjoy the fruits of their labor!   (more…)

Thoughts for Food: Working Together to Protect Our Water—The Little Plover

Blog 29

Harvesting the bounty of the Central Sands is already underway –peas and snap beans are on the way to consumer’s plates and sweet corn, potatoes and carrots are just around the corner.  As we watch and enjoy this remarkable productivity unfold, it is a good time to reflect on what makes it all possible. The Central Sands themselves and the underlying aquifer of groundwater laid down by glaciers 25,000 years ago and replenished each year by rainfall are the corner stones in the foundation. Maintaining the delicate balance between the water resource and the needs of everyone who uses and depends on it, however, is an ongoing challenge that we all must be a part of if future generations are to enjoy the benefits of this unique area.   (more…)

Farm Perspectives: Farmers’ Investments Move Industry Ahead; Provide Quality Products

Potato HandsEven though I work for an organization that has family roots that have been growing potatoes for over 100 years, I didn’t get into agriculture until later in life.  I’ll never forget when I first became associated with the potato industry 15 years ago after having a conversation with a potato grower who was much my senior.  He told me that raising potatoes isn’t that big of a deal.  You put some seed in the ground, put a little sunlight on them, give them a little water and fertilizer and they do the rest on their own.  What I’ve found out is that may well be the biggest understatement since astronaut Jim Lovell told Houston he had a problem.

The fact of the matter is farming has become incredibly high tech.  Virtually all aspects of production have been studied and influenced by scientific study.  (more…)

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