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IPC celebrates grand opening of laboratory at the University of Idaho

Last week the Idaho Potato Commission participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to officially recognize the opening of the new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. The state-of-the-art facility is critical to maintaining the quality of one of Idaho’s most important agricultural commodities, the potato.

The $5.3 million laboratory, which was funded by the IPC and several other contributors, was built to address greater demand for disease-free plantlets and mini-tubers than current capacity allows, ultimately benefitting the entire industry:

  • Size: The larger facility will allow more plantlets and mini-tubers to be studied, increasing plant production by three times over the next five years.
  • Greenhouse Production Reduction: Allow growers to reduce their current greenhouse production of mini-tubers, ultimately saving them time and money.
  • Biosafety: The laboratory is located in the new building to ensure biosafety. The healthy plants/seedlings will be isolated from research being conducted on potato pathogens.
  • Increased cold storage capacity: This allows for greater production of current varieties to meet the industry needs while supporting increased development of new varieties.

“The Idaho Potato Commission’s investment in the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory is critical to the future of the Idaho potato,” said Jamey Higham, president and CEO of IPC. “We’ve got the smartest minds in agriculture, devoting one hundred percent of their time studying the potato and researching ways to improve yield, develop new varieties and identify ways to protect the potato from known and unknown pathogens.”

Idaho potatoes are the only worldwide known potato brand. In 2021, Idaho growers harvested over 314,000 acres of famous potatoes, representing over one-third of all potatoes grown in the U.S. It's estimated that the Idaho potato industry, including the processors, growers, fresh pack shippers and support industry generate approximately $5 billion in revenue. Potatoes are an integral part of Idaho's economy. Not only it is critical to increase demand for Idaho potatoes, it’s equally important to maintain high-quality standards.

The IPC hosted its March Commission in Moscow, ID. In attendance were:
Grower Commissioners

  • Brett Jensen, Idaho Falls, ID
  • Julie Van Orden, Blackfoot, ID
  • Mark Darrington, Declo, ID
  • Rom Ambrose, Wendell, ID
  • Eric Jemmett, Parma, ID

Fresh Pack Shippers Commissioner: Todd Cornelison, High Country Potato, Rexburg, ID

Processor Commissioners: Paul Saito, McCain Foods, Burley, ID

Photo: Brett Jensen, IPC chairman, cuts the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony of the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory at the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Pictured are Michael Parrella, dean, University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Jamey Higham, president and CEO, Idaho Potato Commission; Doug Robinson, president, Northwest Farm Credit Services; and Scott Green, president, University of Idaho.

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