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New Jersey Potato Growers host EPA Tour

Live aerial pesticide application at Jim Coombs Farms
September 4, 2014
During the week of August 26, the National Potato Council (NPC) led a delegation of 19 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff on a crop tour of New Jersey’s potato growing region. NPC's annual tour helps staff gain a better understanding of how the agency's policy decisions impact potato production and of the actions taken by growers to be good stewards of the environment.

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.

An EPA Staffer tries her luck at digging potatoes at Jim Coombs Farms

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.

Secretary Fisher spraking before the EPA tour group during dinner

Each summer, NPC joins with potato growers from a specific region to host a group from EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. The goal of the trip is to educate the agency staff on the impact of regulatory actions on potato growing practices and also to tell the positive message of the U.S. potato industry’s collective effort to care for and protect the environment.
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The National Potato Council is looking after the interest of the potato growers in the United States. The NPC website provides information on potato history, potato cultivation, potato statistics and US state potato organisations