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Snyder makes appointments, reappointments to Michigan Potato Industry Commission

Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced five appointments and four reappointments to the Michigan Potato Industry Commission.

The commission fosters and promotes an economically sustainable potato industry in the state.

“These appointees bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the board and I appreciate their willingness to serve,” Snyder said.

Appointed are:

Wayne Leep, of Martin, is the owner and operator of County Line Potato Farms LLC. He has farmed for 29 years and has more than 1,300 acres of potatoes and hay. He will represent chip growers and replaces Duane Anderson.

John Marker, of Elmira, is the owner/operator of Marker Farms LLC. He has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and farms more than 600 acres of potatoes, wheat, soybeans, rye, and snap beans. He will represent seed growers and replaces Greg Iott.

Ted Hanson, of Cornell, is the co-owner of Hanson Seed Farm LLC. He farms seed potatoes, corn, hay and grain. Hanson holds a degree in water resource management from Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba. He will represent seed growers and replaces Dennis Hanson.

Philip Gusmano, of Grosse Pointe Farms, is the vice president of purchasing for Better Made Snack Foods Inc. He previously served in various capacities at Better Made, including production manager, manager of special projects, district sales manager and management cross trainee. Gusmano holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and master’s in business administration, both from Central Michigan University. He will represent shippers and replaces Timothy Wilkes.

Kevin Storm, of Cass City, is the farm manager of Walther Farms, where he farms 4,500 acres and produces 1,550 acres of chip potatoes a year, which are mainly sourced to Frito Lay. He previously worked for Homakie Farms and Brinkman Excavating. He will represent chip growers and replaces Timothy Young.

Reappointed are:

Brian Sackett, of Mecosta, is a partner at Sackett Potatoes and has 25 years of experience growing and marketing potatoes. Sackett Potatoes has more than 8,000 acres on which they farm potatoes, seed corn, field corn, and soybeans. Sackett is the chairman of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission Storage and Handling Committee. He will continue to represent chip growers.

William Kitchen, of Elmira, is president of Kitchen Farms Inc., where he has farmed for 50 years as a third generation farmer. He farms 4,000 acres of potatoes and alfalfa. Kitchen Farms has been growing, bagging and shipping potatoes since 1909. He will continue to represent fresh shippers-retailers.

Patrick Du Russel, of Manchester, is the vice president/treasurer of Du Russels’ Potato Farms Inc. He has farmed potatoes for more than 45 years and farms more than 1,400 acres of beets, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, dill, kale, mustard greens, parsley, potatoes, soy beans, swiss chard, turnip tops and wheat. The farm is a select supplier for Campbell Soup Co. and maintains a stall in the historic Eastern Market first started by the farm in 1873. He will continue to represent fresh growers.

Randall Styme, of Posen, is a partner at R&E Farms. He has farmed for 32 years and farms more than 2,400 acres of potatoes, alfalfa, oats, and wheat. The farm grows, stores, packages and ships potatoes from September through June, rotating with small grains. The farm recently completed a new potato packing facility and currently packages and sells consumer and food service packages with white, red and russet potatoes. He will continue to represent fresh growers.

Appointees will serve three-year terms expiring July 1, 2016, and their appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.

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