b'Dear Potato Family, It Has Been One Heck Of A JourneyJohn Toaspern reflects on the significant accomplishments he has witnessed in the past 23 years as he steps outside of the potato industry into retirementJohn Toaspern,Chief Marketing Officer, Potatoes USAIt is with a great deal of pride, andthank all the dedicated personnel at some sadness, as I write to informFAS, APHIS, and AMS. The staff on myfriendsinthepotatoindustrythe Board have been like family, and thatIhaveretiredfromPotatoesI cant thank them enough for their USA.Myjourneywiththepotatofriendship, hard work, and dedica-industry started in 1999 when thetion to the Board and the industry.growerleadershipattheNational Potato Promotion Board hired me asWhathasbeenaccomplishedover VPofInternationalMarketing.thesetwo-plusdecadesisastound-Then, in 2013 the grower leadershiping and certainly cant all be fit into installedmeinthenewlycreatedthis column, but I do want to men-Chief Marketing Officer position totion some of the significant success-es. bring the domestic marketing, inter-nationalmarketing,andindustryInternational Marketing outreach work under one coordinat-Added Vietnam, Central America, A US Potatoesed effort.Myanmar,UAE,SaudiArabia,andCuba to the Boards targets. We have accomplished a great deal together in the past 23 years, and IAddedchippingpotatoestothe must say that, while certainly frus- range of products promoted, which Messagetratingattimes,ithasbeenanis now a major export for the indus-absolute pleasure and I truly lovedtry. my job. I already miss working with the great farming families and other Obtained total USDA export devel-wonderfulpeopleinthepotatoopment funding of over $138 mil-lion. industry. The international market-ing representatives, agency partners, Added dehydrated potatoes to the contractors,andpotatoorganiza- U.S.governmentsinternational tion staff are now some of my bestfood assistance programs. friends, and I will always cherish the timewespenttogetherandthe Increased export growth by over excellentworkwedid.Muchof100%. what was accomplished was in part- International Market Access nershipwithUSDA,andImust Over 60 impactful market access achievements; here are some high-6 POTATO GROWER JULY/AUGUST 2022'