The Columbia Basin is the drainage basin of the Columbia River and covers about 260,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it spans from the southeastern part of British Columbia, over most of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as the western part of Montana and small parts of Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The fertile soil of this land is home to many farms, and one operation in particular is very proud of its location in the Columbia Basin because of the quality the soil helps the company achieve. This is Harvest Fresh Produce Inc., a quality producer and packer of potatoes.
“Established in 1972, Harvest Fresh Produce has more than 40 years of experience in the potato industry, both in growing and packing superior potatoes,” the company says. “We are a Fresh Pak facility, and we take great pride in the quality of potatoes from start to finish. Our potatoes are grown in the fertile soil of the Columbia Basin and then packaged in our facility, located in Othello, Wash.”
The company’s brands include Harvest Fresh, Green Giant and Country Fresh & Valley. It offers a variety of count cartons, specialty packs, consumer packs and bulk packs. Harvest Fresh Produce also notes that it provides a customized, certified seed-cutting operation for local growers. “Harvest Fresh provides consumer packs for all of our customers’ special needs,” it says.
The company explains it was one of the first packing sheds to implement the Exeter Engineering packing equipment and has since upgraded that equipment. Its focus on quality in its operations includes a strict adherence to food safety.
“Harvest Fresh is certified by the American Institute of Baking and certified by Primus Labs on our food safety program,” the company says. “Harvest Fresh ships via truck, rail and intermodal containers. We ship to all states and export to Canada and areas of the Pacific Rim.”
Connections to the Industry
Harvest Fresh Produce is one of the main co-op members of United Potato Growers of America (UPGA), which was established in 2005. In 2008, in fact, Harvest Fresh Produce President Allen Floyd was the chairman of the board for UPGA.
“UPGA was formed by growers to focus on managing the cooperative members’ potato supply so as to positively affect grower profitability,” the co-op explains. “Through membership, growers are empowered to better understand and act upon demand for their product. At this time, affiliated growers are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. UPGA was created under the provisions of the Capper-Volstead Act that was enacted in 1922 by the U.S. Congress to allow growers to work collectively to market their products.”
Understanding that potato and agriculture industry collaboration are critical for the success of its members, UPGA works closely with many organizations. These include the Potato Marketing Association of North America, U.S. Potato Board, National Potato Council, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and United Potato Growers of Canada. The co-op also works with other groups, vendors, media outlets and providers to ensure an effective business environment.
“To say that the potato production industry has been struggling is not an overstatement,” UPGA says. “Technological advances and other factors have spurred an increase in the potato grower’s ability to produce more potatoes at a time when consumer demand and industry infrastructure have changed. In addition, the modern grower grapples with increasing production costs and an over-supplied marketplace. Product over-supply makes it impossible for growers to receive a reasonable price.
“In 2004, after evaluating the economic realities of the current business climate, a group of potato growers decided that long-term production and supply management are critically needed to provide sustainability and a reasonable return for growers.”
The UPGA was established with the mission of managing its potato supply and matching it to demand to help growers receive a reasonable price for their product.
In addition to its membership in the national organization, Harvest Fresh Produce also is a member of the WA-OR Potato Growers Co-Op, the Washington Potato and Onion Association and the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC).
The WSPC explains that its mission is to support an economically and environmentally sustainable Washington state potato industry by providing strong leadership and innovation, and building partnerships to meet the demands of global consumers. It is governed by 15 commissioners from the state’s potato industry.
“The main functions of the commission are to enhance trade opportunities, to advance environmentally sound production and cultural practices through research, and to represent the growers’ interests in areas and issues relating to public and industry education, trade barriers, irrigation, transportation and crop protection.
“With an annual budget of approximately $3 million, the Washington State Potato Commission and its members work to the benefit of all Washington potato growers. While keeping the state’s approximately 250 growers apprised of significant issues, news and advice, the commission represents their interests in its work with businesses, domestic and international markets, the media and leaders in the state and national capitals.”