F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 4 POTATO GROWER 4 POTATO GROWER Keeling and Dagen Honored At NPC Annual Banquet by Ted Kreis, NPPGA Marketing and Communications Director Dagen Wins Coveted Gold Potato Award The highest honor that the National Potato Council (NPC) presents to a potato grower is the Gold Potato Award for leadership. It recognizes the recipi- ent’s significant contributions and ded- icated service to the potato industry. This year that award went to our own Justin Dagen at the NPC’s annual ban- quet on January 11th. The Gold Potato Award is not given out every year but only when a recipient meets the following criteria: What has the grower done for the entire potato industry? How significant is his/her participation in the NPC? Will the industry recognize the significance of this grower receiving this award? Has this individual expended a great deal of time and effort for the NPC? Dagen, a certified seed grower from Karlstad, Minnesota meets or exceeds all criteria. Justin has been very active in the potato business his whole farm- ing career. He is the only person to serve as a NPPGA chairman twice; once in 1997-98 and then again a decade later in 2007-08. He has also served on the U.S. Potato Board (now Potatoes USA) and has been active in many other ag related organizations and causes. With a special interest in legislative, reg- ulatory, environmental and trade issues facing the potato industry, Justin has been especially active with the NPC for many years including as the organiza- tion’s chairman in 2011. NPC CEO John Keeling said, “Over the 18 years I have worked with the potato industry, Justin has been at the elite level in his commitment to the potato industry and the National Potato Council. He is one of the most decent and thoughtful individuals I have known. He lives and breathes love and dedication to his family, his faith and farming. I know his engagement with the potato industry does not end with this award. “ Keeling is “Potato Man for All Seasons” Editors Note: The “Potato Man for All Seasons” is another award that is not handed out every year. It is reserved for those who have demonstrated many years of outstanding service to the potato indus- try. The award is sponsored by The Packer, a leading potato industry publication. The following article is from Tom Karst, Editor- in Chief for The Packer who also presented the award to Keeling. (Keeling received two boisterous standing ovations, one before and one after his acceptance speech.) John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council and a part of the 2011 class of The Packer 25, will retire from the Washington, D.C.-based council by mid-year. The council is in the early stages of searching for a successor to Keeling. Keeling has had a transformational impact on the potato industry since he was hired in late 2001, Karst said, lead- ing efforts to enhance potato exports, boost the potato’s role in nutrition pro- grams and working as a key lobbyist for specialty crop interests in the farm bill. Drawing from comments submitted by NPC members who nominated Keeling for the award, Karst said Keeling was the leader of the group when it moved from Denver to Washington, D.C., in 2002. His nearly 15 years of legislative and regulatory experience before coming to the council served the industry well. Keeling made the NPC more effective, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission. “I Justin Dagen (left) receives the "Gold Potato Award" from outgoing NPC Chairman Cully Easterday at NPC's annual awards banquet last Friday in Austin. (photo Ted Kreis)