PGMI Board Welcomes New Members

April 27, 2016

Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc. (PGMI) has announced changes in its board membership following its 2016 election.
Jeff Thorlund of Thorlund Brothers Farm of Greenville is succeeding Norm Crooks of Crooks Farms of Stanton, who has served six three-year terms on the board since 1998.  Both of their operations specialize in chipping potatoes.  Don Sklarczyk of Sklarczyk Seed Farm of Johannesburg, who has also been on the board since 1998, was elected to another three-year term.  In addition, the Michigan Potato Industry Commission appointed Phil Gusmano of Better Made Snack Foods of Detroit to represent the Commission on the PGMI board for a one-year term.
PGMI, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is a voluntary organization that a group of far-sighted growers formed in 1991 to deal with emerging issues outside the functions of the Commission, which is limited by law to promotion, education and research.  Most of PGMI’s concerns are in the legislative and regulatory arenas.
PGMI’s manager Mike Wenkel said, “The key issues we’re working on now could affect the climate for Michigan potato production.  Over the past year our efforts have included continuing the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program and maintaining the current Michigan truck-weights structure.  We’re also continuing to monitor state and federal policy on water use and quality.  The board also keeps looking for opportunities to elevate the importance of the industry before key decision-makers at various events.  One success has been our annual Potato Day at the Capitol in November.  The PGMI Political Action Committee is another aspect of PGMI’s mission to advance the industry’s interests.”
Wenkel said of the new board membership, “I’m looking forward to working with Jeff and Phil in their new roles with PGMI on the key issues that affect potato production.”  He paid tribute to Norm Crooks for his long service:  “Norm has been a great asset to the PGMI board over the years.  He helped round out a great group of individuals focused on ensuring that Michigan has the right political climate to continue moving the industry forward.”  Wenkel also observed regarding Don Sklarczyk’s re-election that “Don continues to play a vital role in helping shape the direction of the industry.  His relationships with key individuals at both the state and national levels continue to elevate the effectiveness of the organization.”  Sklarczyk was president of the National Potato Council a decade ago.
Other PGMI board members for 2016 are President Dennis Iott of Iott Seed Farms of Kalkaska, Vice President Jason Walther of Walther Farms of Three Rivers, a grower for the chipping market, and tablestock grower Randy Styma of R & E Farms of Posen and Duane Andersen of Andersen Brothers of Blanchard, a chipping-potato producer.

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