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Reaping Rewards of Processing Plant Expansion

After years of stagnant growth, the potato processing industry in North America is on the rise. Numerous processors have expanded or opened plants in the last year or two in response to growing demand for french fries and other potato products. For instance, McCain Foods expanded its potato processing facilities in Idaho and New Brunswick in 2016, and growers in both areas are reaping the benefits. Blair Young, who grows 600 acres…

Swansfleet Alliance Celebrates 40 Years

Manitoba’s Swansfleet Alliance is marking its 40th year of producing seed potatoes this year. Its founder, Dutch immigrant Henk Jonk, came to Canada in 1954 and eventually settled in the Swan Lake area of the province to farm. He began growing seed potatoes in 1976, and today his sons and grandchildren carry on the proud family tradition of providing high-quality seed to potato producers in Manitoba. One of Henk’s grandsons, Russell Jonk,…

Potato Farming Family Finds Room to Grow

As a kid growing up in the Netherlands, JP Claassen knew he wanted to be a potato farmer just like his dad. The problem was where to do just that. Claassen’s father Louis and his uncle Anselm cultivated seed potatoes on 140 acres of fertile Dutch farmland close to the North Sea. Between the two of them, they had five sons. The two brothers knew if their boys all grew up to…

Family Pride

In 1989, Kornelis Bakker was in his second year of university in the Netherlands when his best friend made a surprising announcement: “We’re going to Canada next summer,” he told Bakker. A seed growers’ delegation from New Brunswick had been in the area visiting a few seed farms, including his friend’s. That night at supper, his friend told his parents he’d decided to do an internship in New Brunswick. “No, you’re not,”…

Remarkable Turnaround for Manitoba Grower

Eleven years ago, things weren’t going so well for Manitoba potato grower Sheldon Wiebe. Wiebe had gone through some really tough years on his farm just outside MacGregor, and it prompted him to take stock: he could continue dryland potato farming on the fields where his family had been growing spuds for three generations, or he could look somewhere else. “That fall I went for a drive 20 miles west of us…

A Canadian Love Affair

Michel and Hanneke Camps didn’t plan on becoming farm owners when they first arrived in Canada in 2000. The husband and wife had both graduated from university in their native Holland with degrees in intensive livestock management and were eager to gain some work experience abroad. They ended up in southern Alberta and spent the next two years doing just that, Michel at a potato farm and Hanneke at a nearby hog…

Trying Something New in P.E.I.

For years, Robert Green has been growing barley and canola in rotation with potatoes on his farm in Bedeque, P.E.I. This season, he’s decided to try something new. Green is sticking with potatoes, but he is introducing some different crops into his rotation. They are green and yellow pea and faba bean — crops you don’t typically see on Island farms. “We’re going to try a couple of new crops here this…

Progressive Outlook on Potato Farming

New Brunswick’s Shawn Paget is among the new generation of potato farmers working hard to ensure that the industry remains an integral part of Canadian agriculture. “I’m very optimistic,” says the Simonds, N.B. farmer who’s also chair of Potatoes New Brunswick. “We’re all striving to become more efficient, and the advancements in technology today are allowing us to become better growers and more competitive in the world market.” Paget’s Riverview Farms is…

Four Generations of Potato Growers

When Manitoba potato grower Terry Bailey walks through the frozen food aisle in a supermarket, he sometimes wonders how many of the french fries on display might have originated from his own farm. He’s been a grower for McCain Foods, the world’s french fry leader, in Carberry, Man. since 2004, when McCain acquired the area’s processing plant from Midwest Food Products. Prior to that, Bailey’s family grew potatoes for Midwest as well….

Fraser Valley Farm a Growing Concern

It takes some people most of their lives to find a career that is right for them. It took Pete Schouten considerably less time. “Apparently when I was seven I told my parents I was going to be a farmer,” he says, laughing. “I don’t know what it was. There was just a satisfaction in watching something grow I guess. I had some cousins who farmed and I thought that was kind…

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