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CPAC ushers in new year with annual dinner and board elections

by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar | February 22, 2009
MONTE VISTA, CO -- Held once again in conjunction with the area's agriculture fair at the Ski-Hi Park, the election of new members to the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee took place Feb. 12.

The event included a keynote address by Lowell Catlett, renowned futurist and professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

Representing the committee's independent handlers for 2009 are Virginia and Ernie Myers of Mountain Valley Produce (with Mike Bonemeyer of Aspen Produce as alternate), David and Hope Tonso of Ca?on Potato Co. (with Trampas and Debra McCormick of McCormick & Milne as alternates) and Mike and Glena Mitchell of Monte Vista Potato Growers (with Greg and Jennifer Metz as alternates).

Bulk shippers are represented by Sherrel and Linda Mix (with Roger and Jennifer Christensen as alternates) and Segundo and Margie Diaz (with Ernie and Suzanne Bothell as alternates).

Seed growers are represented by Ernie and Keeli Ford of Sunny Valley Farms (with Carla Worley of Worley Seed as alternate).

Alamosa County is representated by Keith and Laurie Holland (with Danny and Judy Neufeld as alternates) and Hunter and Carol Sessums (with Warren and Melissa Rytting as alternate). Conejos County is represented by Tom and Donna Ford (with Gilbert and Julie Franken as alternates). Costilla County is represented by Byron and Deanna Kunugi (with David Radtke as alternate). Rio Grande County is represented by Mark and Michele Peterson (with Brett Deacon as alternate) and Roger and Rosalie Mix (with Ronald and Lynette Crowther as alternates).

Saguache County is representated by Sheldon and Nicole Rockey (with Ken Burback as alternate) and Kent and Lisa Palmgren (with Clifton Curtis as alternate).

According to CPAC Administrator Linda Weyers, the afternoon and evening event was the culmination of a three-day ag fair, during which the committee was among several dozen exhibitors. In addition, United Fresh Potato Growers of Colorado was represented by Chief Executive Officer Dwight Freeman, and the Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association had a booth that was staffed by Preston Stanley.

Attendance was brisk at the fair, and some 150 members of the potato industry attended the dinner. Two academic scholarships were presented during the dinner, with current Spud Bowl Queen Hope Rheigans, a senior at Sargent High School, receiving a full-year inclusive scholarship to Adams State College in Alamosa, CO.

The recipient of this year's four-year, inclusive Doug Monter Memorial Scholarship was Mart?n Diaz, who is also attending Adams State.

During his keynote address, Dr. Catlett, whose folksy style had universal appeal among audience members, explained his take on neurogenesis, agriculture, changes in technology and the effect of it all on existing generations.

Dr. Catlett earned his doctorate in economics from Iowa State University and has twice received the Don C. Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is also a recipient of the Burlington Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding University Teaching, and in 1994 he was one of two Western regional recipients of the National Association of State Universities & Land Grant Colleges Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food & Agricultural Sciences Award.

"We're good at producing food," he told the crowd in Monte Vista, noting that farmers can now "grow two blades of grass where we once grew one."

He also noted that cell phones will control "smart center-pivots," and farmers will be "in that tractor cab because you want to be, because you sure don't have to be."

Regarding changes in human priorities in the United States, Dr. Catlett said that the primary reason for buying a ranch in the 21st century is to be close to a destination resort.

"What is a luxury to one generation is a necessity to the next," he said, adding that people "afford what they want, and that drives agriculture."

He went on to say, "You grow a lot of potatoes here. Is it about calories so people can live, or is it about red ones and purple ones and bakers and fingerlings?"

And about neurogenesis, Dr. Catlett said that every cell in the human body is eventually replaced by a new one.

"So go have that beer," he quipped.