The Vine
Graham Dugdale portrait against wood wall
Graham Dugdale

Simplot Selects Dugdale To Lead New Global Food Effort

The J.R. Simplot Company has named Graham Dugdale president of its newly formed Global Foods business group. Dugdale previously led Simplot Australia and will now assume the role of merging that business group with Simplot International Food Group previously led by Mark McKellar, who is retiring later this year.

“With change comes opportunity, and we saw a unique opportunity to capitalize on a global structure that leverages the knowledge of our employees, the capabilities we have as an organization and, in particular, better aligns our global food manufacturing footprint,” said Garrett Lofto, Simplot president and CEO. “Graham is a strong, collaborative leader who has proven his value while leading our Simplot Australia division for several years and serving on our senior leadership team. His track record, strategic thinking and growth mindset make him the perfect choice to lead our employees and our global customer base into this exciting new phase.”

The creation of Simplot Global Foods comes after McKellar’s retirement following 27 successful years with the company, including the previous 12 as president of Food Group. Under McKellar’s leadership, Food Group expanded and enhanced a number of processing plants; built new, state-of-the art facilities in Idaho and Argentina; and expanded its vision of customer service at a global scale, putting in motion the opportunities now realized by the company.

Dugdale has worked for Simplot for 18 years, including the past five as managing director of the Australia business group. He started his career in the finance sector in London, UK, before embarking into the food business in South Africa, his home country.

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Rob Larose portrait, outside with the ocean in the distance
Rob Larose
A Leader Gone Too Soon, But the Legacy Goes On

We sadly announce the loss of our fearless leader, Rob Larose. He was a visionary businessman and BioSafe Systems’ employees, industry partners, lifelong colleagues and friends all mourn his loss immensely.

Larose started this company in the basement of his home in New Jersey and used his business acumen to commercialize peroxyacetic acid and grow BioSafe Systems into a thriving national presence. It was his ambition to expand to the West Coast, build and develop three manufacturing sites across the country, and explore opportunities in modern markets. He took every defeat and learned from it, and that’s why BioSafe Systems is the success it is today.

BioSafe Systems is prepared to continue in Rob’s absence and move forward with its resolute directives. The Larose family will remain at the forefront with his daughter Lauren Larose Crane stepping in as president. Crane has been committed to BioSafe Systems all her adult life and directed the Operations Department for the last 10 years, ensuring optimum efficiency of daily operations while supported by a strong management team.

BioSafe Systems is looking forward to a future that honors Larose’s entrepreneurial ideals, makes him proud, and illustrates how thankful we are for the wisdom and guidance he gave us.

– Mary Ann Larose, Lauren Larose Crane, Matthew Larose, Michael Larose, Steve Larose, Justin Crane, and the BioSafe Systems family

New Executive Director For PVMI

PVMI, the Potato Variety Management Institute, is a 501(c)3, a not-for-profit organization, which was founded by the Potato Commissions of Idaho, Oregon and Washington in 2005.

Since 2006, it has been run by Jeanne Debons, the executive director, with guidance from the nine-member PVMI Board. In July this year Jenny Durrin Gentry was appointed to replace Debons as executive director.

PVMI’s main mission is to promote new potato varieties that arise from the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program by providing information regarding variety features and management practices to growers, thereby maximizing the success of the varieties.

Gentry has been the director of the Seed Potato Germplasm Program at the University of Idaho for the past six years. Prior to that she managed a nematode laboratory at the same institution. Gentry is experienced in the industry and practiced in the art of providing services to potato growers. She has worked with the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program and Pacific Northwest Potato Industry to establish and provide disease-free potato germplasm.

Gentry started working with PVMI full-time in October alongside Debons for the first four months. The handover period ends Jan. 31, 2023, and at that time, Debons will retire after more than 16 years at the job.

“It has been my honor to be of service to the potato industry,” Debons said. “PVMI filled a gap that no one realized had existed and I am certain Jenny will do a great job of continuing that service.”

Jean Goslin, Kathy Goodyke, Rose Tryon VanCott and Laura Hart, Arlene Kovash, and Heather Hampton-Knodle.
The American Agri-Women executive committee includes (back row, l to r) Jean Goslin, Kathy Goodyke, Rose Tryon VanCott and (front row, l to r) Laura Hart, Arlene Kovash, and Heather Hampton-Knodle.  Not pictured, Karolyn Zurn.

American Agri-Women Elects New National Officers

American Agri-Women (AAW) recently elected its national officers at its 2022 national convention in Bozeman, Mont. AAW, a national coalition of farm, ranch, and agri-business women, is in its 48th year of advocating for agriculture.

Arlene Kovash of Oregon Women for Agriculture is the new secretary. Jean Goslin of Kansas Agri-Women is VP of Education. These women will serve two-year terms.

Continuing on the national board for the second year of their two-year term is Heather Hampton-Knodle, Illinois Agri-Women, who serves as president; Rose Tryon VanCott, California Women for Agriculture, first vice president; Laura Hart, Texas Agri-Women, vice president of communications; Kathy Goodyke, Minnesota Agri-Women, treasurer; and Karolyn Zurn will continue her role as past president.

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BASF Hires Two New Technical Field Representatives To Cover The West

BASF Agricultural Solutions has welcomed two new technical field representatives to its agronomic team. Both members have been assigned to regions of California and Arizona.

Jessica Salmer will cover California’s Central Valley. She has 11 years of experience in the agricultural sector, five years of experience in agro-chemical development and six years of experience in product management and sales.

Before BASF, she was a marketing manager at Nutrient Ag Solutions. Salmer graduated with a Master of Science with an emphasis in entomology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Jose Cabrera portrait against white background
Jose Cabrera
Jessica Salmar portrait against white background
Jessica Salmar

Also joining the team is Jose Cabrera, who covers Southern California and Arizona. He is an agribusiness professional who was worked for 15 years in the vegetable seeds and crop protection industry. Prior to his role at BASF, he was a product manager at Helena Agri-Enterprises. Cabrera graduated with a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness from Louisiana State University and from Pan American Agriculture School in Zamorano, Honduras, with a degree in Agronomy and Crop Science.

Pennsylvania Co-Operative Potato Growers logo

Ag Secretary Celebrates Pennsylvania Potato Growers Centennial On Historic Franklin County Farm

Orrstown, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined potato growers, potato chip manufacturers and potato lovers on the historic Bender Potato Farm in Orrstown, Franklin County, to celebrate the centennial of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers and their tasty, nutritious contributions to the Pennsylvania state economy.

“Pennsylvania and potatoes go hand-in-hand,” Redding said. “What would a Pennsylvania fair be without french fries, or the ‘Snack Capital of the U.S.’ without potato chips, or a Thanksgiving feast without a heap of buttery, whipped mashed potatoes?”

“Bryan Bender and the other farmers who make up the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers have fed our families and our economy for generations, and sustained our communities through their generosity,” he continued. “They continue to feed our progress, employing cutting-edge methods and equipment. Congratulations on a proud centennial and a bright future.”

With 83,000 tons of potatoes produced on 5,400 acres across Pennsylvania, the cooperative’s growers supply retail, food service and potato chip manufacturers, feeding $15 million in annual sales. They supply the 24 chip manufacturing plants that have earned Pennsylvania its “Snack Food Capital of the U.S.” title. Since 2020, the cooperative has supplied more than 12.6 million pounds of potatoes through food service partners to food insecure families through the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

In partnership with the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, the group has conducted potato variety research, with its membership contributing $50,000 annually to support the work that benefits consumers and potato growers statewide.

“This 100-year celebration honors the 28 hardworking potato-grower farm families in our cooperative,” said Nathan Tallman, president of the cooperative. “It also recognizes the leadership and dedication of the farm families who have come before us to keep Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers operating for a century.”

Since 2019, the PA Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $430,000 to the cooperative through Specialty Crop Block Grants, and more than $130,000 for its work promoting potatoes through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product, Promotion, Education, and Export Promotion Matching Grant.

The organization is a mainstay at the annual PA Farm Show every January, serving thousands of potato donuts, 12 tons of fresh cut fries, six tons of baked potatoes and hundreds of pierogies to hungry guests. The cooperative sponsors the chef demonstrations and events on the PA Preferred® Culinary Connection stage on “Tater Tuesday,” and greeting guests with potato-centric education and entertainment in their booth every year.

Cameron Edwards portrait outside
Cameron Edwards
Mason Troendle portrait against grey background
Mason Troendle

Cameron Edwards, Mason Troendle Join Meristem Crop Performance

Two more leading agronomic professionals have joined Meristem Crop Performance. Cameron Edwards will serve farm businesses in Ohio as sales representative and Mason Troendle becomes sales representative serving farm operations in Iowa.

Edwards and Troendle both have deep experience helping growers boost their profitability by bringing together the right crop inputs and farming practices specific to local needs.

Edwards has nearly five years of experience in sales and business development with Ag-Pro Company, a John Deere dealer with 80 locations, and Direct Enterprises Inc., a provider of customized seed treatments and seed treating equipment. Before that, Edwards worked for several years with two diverse commercial farming operations near Williston, Florida, raising grain, cattle, peanuts, hay and watermelons, gaining experience with crop production at field-level. Edwards earned his degree in food and resource economics from the University of Florida and now lives in central Ohio.

Troendle grew up on a cattle and row crop farm in northeast Iowa and interned with ag input providers in the summers while attending Iowa State University studying Ag Business. He gained further field-level experience in nearly five years with Stalcup, a farm management business serving northwest Iowa. Troendle also has been an auctioneer and is a licensed farmland broker in Iowa and Minnesota. He most recently worked with Tillable, a start-up oriented toward bringing together farmland owners and farmers to operate their land.

Troendle, his wife, Lindsay, and their children, Henley and McCoy, live in the country in central Iowa.

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McCain Foods, Farm Credit Canada Come Together To Support Growers’ Sustainable Practices

McCain Foods and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) have come together with a new offering to reduce financial barriers for potato farmers who are transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices.

Smart and sustainable farming is a key pillar of McCain’s commitment to be a more environmentally-conscious company, anchored on its commitment to regenerative agriculture. This initiative will assist McCain in advancing its goal to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 percent of its contract potato acreage worldwide by 2030. That said, the transition to more sustainable farming practices often requires up-front investments in new equipment and practices from farmers.

This first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada will offer financial incentives to McCain potato farmers who are at the onboarding level or higher on McCain’s Regenerative Agriculture Framework.

Through the Sustainability Incentive Program, FCC customers who are McCain suppliers are eligible to receive an incentive payment for their farm sustainability efforts. Through this offer, McCain will add to the FCC incentive paid to its potato farmers, based on where the farmers are in their journey on McCain’s Regenerative Agricultural Framework. Farmers at the “Onboarding” level of the Framework will receive matching funds. For farmers at the “Beginner” level, McCain will match $2 for every dollar received from FCC.

The incentive from McCain increases as farmers progress through the framework to the Master and Expert levels. Visit here for more information on McCain’s Regenerative Agriculture Framework.

Information on FCC’s Sustainability Incentive Program can be found at