By John O’Connell

Intermountain Farm and Ranch

EAGLE – A marketing expert who grew up in Shelley and has deep roots in the potato industry will be tasked with maintaining Idaho’s reputation for having the best taters in the world.

Jamey Higham will become the new chairman and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission starting in early 2022.

Higham will take on the role of Frank Muir, who led the IPC for an 18-year period during which the state’s potato industry doubled its farm gate receipts to over $ 1 billion. of dollars. Muir retired in mid-September.

The IPC, a state agency responsible for promoting and protecting the famous “Grown in Idaho” seal, is funded by an appraisal of 12.5 cents per hundred pounds of potatoes grown by Idaho farmers.

“IPC has done a tremendous job managing the brand, and I am very touched and excited about this opportunity,” Higham said in a press release. “I started in the potato industry in 1991, and it’s in my blood.

Higham graduated from Shelley High School, which has a red potato as its mascot, and served for 12 years on the Shelley School Board.

He started his career at Walker Produce in Idaho Falls, then worked for several years in sales at Potandon Produce in Idaho Falls.

He earned a master’s degree in international business from Arizona State University, then worked for five years in marketing and sales for Ford Motor Co.

He then returned to Potandon in 2003, where he worked for 13 years, notably as Vice President of Sales. He became President and CEO of Farm Fresh Direct in Colorado in 2016.

According to a press release, it has contributed to “strong growth in the company’s conventional and organic potato lines”.

Higham is also a current member of the United Fresh Government Relations Council and was in the 13th class of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership.

“Jamey is a potato guy through and through, and he really understands the industry,” IPC President Brett Jensen of Idaho Falls said in a press release. “With his longtime love for Idaho potatoes, we know he’s going to do an incredible job supporting our growers, shippers and processors statewide. We have a great brand and a great story to tell about our potatoes. “

IPC Commissioner Mark Darrington of Declo said several top-notch candidates applied for the job, but he was impressed with Higham’s enthusiasm and leadership skills.

Darrington believes Higham will bring new perspectives to the CPI, although he said Muir has set the bar high.

“I think Idaho growers are the envy of most growing states when it comes to Idaho potato awareness and we want to be innovative and capitalize on that investment that has been made. over so many years, ”Darrington said.

Higham will wait until he finishes his work with Farm Fresh Direct before starting with IPC, explained Travis Blacker, IPC director of industrial relations.

“He’s going to be fantastic. I’ve known Jamey for many, many years, and he’ll be really good in the role,” Blacker said.

Blacker said the budget has been set for the year and IPC is ready to continue with its high profile marketing programs for the year.

IPC sponsors the famous Idaho Potato Bowl, hosted by ESPN and hosted at Boise State University. The college football game is scheduled for December 21 this year.

Blacker said IPC is also planning to take another tour of its Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, which carries a 6-ton replica of a ruddy potato.

Blacker said the IPC is planning a one-time shipment for the truck’s next trip, inspired by college science fair projects in which students power a light bulb with a potato.

Instead of starting the truck with a battery for the next trip, the IPC will start with power from a bag of crampons.

Blacker explained that the truck will be “literally powered by potatoes from Idaho.”