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U.S. POTATO BOARD RELEASES RESULTS OF GROWER SURVEY
Source: United States Potato Board news release

Coming out of the January 2005 Grower Survey, 73% of U.S. potato growers rated the job being done by the United States Potato Board (USPB) as "excellent or good." By many standards that level of support for an industry organization is very strong.

In the summer of 2006, the USPB Industry Communications and Policy (ICP) Committee and Staff Department were created with the goal of segmenting communications, by each of the five production segments. ICP would continue to communicate the breadth and depth of the many USPB initiatives, domestically and internationally, all designed to increase demand for U.S. potatoes and potato products.

In January 2009, when the next Grower Survey was conducted, 83% of U.S. potato growers rated the job being done by the USPB as "excellent or good," an unprecedented 10% point jump, thereby, validating the new USPB Industry Communications strategy.

With the completion of the 2014 Grower Survey and the presentation of the results to the full Board at the USPB's 42nd Annual Meeting, March 12, in Colorado Springs, CO, 88% of U.S. potato growers now rate the job being done by the USPB as "excellent or good."

Noted USPB Vice President, Industry Communications and Policy, David Fraser, "While the 5% point jump to 88% is truly outstanding, and we are extremely pleased with this proof USPB Industry Communications programs are, indeed, successfully informing the industry of the ongoing programs, activities and success of the USPB's efforts to build demand for potatoes and potato products, both domestically and globally, an even more remarkable number to us was the fact growers rating the job being done by the USPB as 'excellent' more than doubled from 13% in 2009 to 27% in 2014!" By contrast, the 'excellent' rating had only increased one percentage point in 2009 to 13% from 12% in 2005.



"This significant jump between 2009 and 2014, compared to the one point increase in the 'excellent' rating between 2005 and 2009, clearly demonstrates the cumulative effect of the multimedia effort employed by USPB Industry Communications to reach U.S. growers with the message of how the USPB is 'Maximizing Return on Grower Investment,'" stated Fraser.

"As a former USPB Chairman of the Board stated several years ago, 'if you don't know what the USPB is doing, you're either living under a rock, or you just don't give a darn,'" Fraser recalled. "We think the industry will agree these 2014 Grower Survey results clearly support that statement."

Other significant findings from the 2014 Grower Survey:

Support for programs funded by the USPB assessment improved in 2014, with 89% saying they "strongly or mildly support" the programs, and "strongly support" increasing from 32% to 41%.

The USPB has enjoyed increasingly positive ratings among growers over the past 17 years.



FAMILIARITY/EVALUATION OF SPECIFIC PROJECTS/PROGRAMS
In 2014, 79% said they were "somewhat or very familiar" with the USPB's current projects/programs, up from 73% in 2009.

PERCEPTIONS OF SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE BOARD
In 2014, positive ratings of specific programs far outweighed negative ratings. Ratings of all specific programs were positive and higher than 2009. Negative program ratings were down compared to 2009, with none exceeding 15%.

COMMUNICATIONS ISSUES
Growers get USPB program information from many different sources. 95% received USPB information from industry publications, and 79% from online or other technology sources. Online media sources cited more often in 2014 than 2009. Greatest gains registered by "periodic USPB email," "USPB web sites," and "USPB ads in Spudman or Potato Grower."

In 2014, two specific information sources considered most important were "potato industry-wide publications" (32%) and "periodic USPB email" (25%). From 2009 to 2014, those rating "industry publications" as most important information sources, declined from 53% to 45%. Conversely, "online" sources increased from 24% in 2009 to 34% in 2014.

In 2014, 69% of all growers said USPB emails were a source of USPB information, up from 52% in 2009. 79% of those mentioning USPB email considered them to be "somewhat" or "very valuable," accounting for 55% of all growers.

GROWER CHARACTERISTICS
At 49.5, growers' median age was slightly lower in 2014. Female respondents increased from 6% in 2009 to 12% in 2014

Median potato acreage rose to 450 acres

In 2014 more growers said at least some of their crop went to dehy and chips. About half said their primary crop was fresh

58% said they had used USPB information or participated in USPB programs in the past, up from 48% in 2009

SUBGROUP DIFFERENCES
The strongest supporters of the USPB were:
Primary activity was growing potatoes
Under 45 years of age
Growing 500 or more potato acres
Growing for end-uses other than fresh
Involved in major industry organizations

USPB policy mandates a periodic survey of growers to determine perceptions of the USPB, programs, and related industry issues. The 2014 Grower Survey represented the sixth wave of interviews, previously conducted in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2009.

The stated objectives of the USPB Grower Survey are, among a representative sample of potato growers in the United States, determine trends in:
1. Degree of grower support for the USPB
2. Awareness and attitudes of growers toward specific aspects of USPB activities
3. Communications sources employed by growers
4. Characteristics of growers (e.g., acreage in potatoes, end use of crop, etc.)
5. How perceptions of the USPB might differ among different grower segments (e.g., region, size of operation, etc.)

The 2014 USPB Grower Survey kicked off January 13, 2014, with a letter from USPB Chairman Rob Davis emailed to all email addresses in the USPB database, informing them of the survey and soliciting their cooperation should they be called. Phone interviews were initiated January 16 and completed February 4, 2014.

During the survey period, calls were made to 1,497 potential respondents. Of those 1,497 called, 509 were actually contacted, and from those 509, 414 grew potatoes in 2013, with 383 growers finally completing the survey. All interviews that were completed averaged 14.5 minutes in length.

Fraser concludes, "On behalf of the USPB Board Members, staff, and especially the USPB Industry Communications and Policy Committee and staff, we would like to thank all those growers who participated in the 2014 USPB Grower Survey. Your verbatim comments were aggregated into the final results, and staff will most certainly use those comments as we begin our 2017-2021 Long Range Planning (LRP) process later this year."

For a copy of the USPB 2014 Grower Survey, please contact David Fraser at david.fraser@uspotatoes.com or 303-873-2314.

To learn more about USPB Industry Communications and Policy programs, please see the Industry Communications and Policy LRP on www.uspotatoes.com.

For more information on the USPB as the nation's potato marketing organization, positioned as the "catalyst for positive change," and the central organizing force in implementing programs that will increase demand for potatoes, please visit www.uspotatoes.com.


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