Dr. Bird & Simplot receive industry recognition
February 1, 2017

As a part of that on February 1, The Michigan Potato Industry Commission concluded the 2017 Winter Potato Conference by recognizing Dr. George Bird and the J.R. Simplot Company with their Distinguished Service Award and Outstanding Michigan Potato Partner Award, respectively.

Dr. Bird join the potato research team at Michigan State University in 1973.Prior to coming to MSU, he was a Research Scientist with Agriculture Canada and a faculty member at the University of Georgia. During his time at MSU,
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He took a leave to serve as the National Director of USDA/Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, was the co-editor of the 2006 book entitled, Developing and Extending Sustainable Agriculture: A New Social Contract; and has published over 90 peer reviewed journal articles.

Specific to our industry, Dr. Bird has lead a fumigation research for Michigan’s unique fumigation methods, developed field guides for Nematode Diagnostics and Management and Fumigant Management Plants; and has led many aspects of the industry’s Soil Health Initiative.

Phil Gusmano, chairman of the Commission stated “It is a great honor to recognize George for all of his contributions to the industry. His efforts to advance the Michigan potato industry through the adoption of important management practices has had a significant impact on maintaining and growing our industry here in Michigan.” as he introduced Dr. Bird for the recognition.

Industry partners also play a key role in the success of the industry as evidenced by the relationship that has formed with the J.R. Simplot Company around the commercialization of their Innate® potatoes. “We have been actively engaged with Simplot as the have revolutionized the commercialization of the genetically enhanced potato,” indicated Mike Wenkel, Executive Director of the Commission.

“Through their efforts to work with the commission, our growers have been able to see many of impacts of their enhanced traits during the development stages. By learning about these variety early on, this partnership will have a long-term advantage for Michigan growers.”

On hand to accept the award was Haven Baker, General Manager and Vice President of Plant Sciences.

The Winter Potato Conference brought together over 250 growers, shippers, processors and industry partners of Michigan potato industry to provide educational opportunities, and the opportunity to grow the necessary relationships need to ensure an economically viable potato industry in Michigan.