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RDO responds to Toxic Taters

R.D. Offutt Company (RDO) CEO Keith McGovern reached out to the Enterprise to officially respond to the Toxic Taters organization’s recent claims and requests.

His statement was as follows:

“R.D. Offutt Company is a family-owned and operated potato grower and processor. We’re committed to being good stewards of the earth and good neighbors. We have developed and implemented industry-leading methods of sustainable farming to protect the environment and people.

“We are listening to and working with people who have concerns. We have met with coalition members Carol Ashley, Norma Smith and Robert Shimek several times over the past several years and have been actively addressing their general concerns as part of an ongoing effort to improve our farming practices.

“In addition, we have met with Linda Wells of the Pesticides Action Network. We reviewed our reduction program with her last fall and recently provided an update.

“Over the past three years, we have reduced phosphorus and nitrogen use at our Park Rapids farm by 40 percent and 10 percent, respectively. We have developed an alternative fungicide program on 33 percent of our acres in and around Park Rapids in 2014. This program will result in fewer applications of fungicide on these acres.

“We do all this through a variety of methods. One example is using GPS auto steering to reduce overlap when applying inputs. Another is planting potato varieties that require fewer inputs, while meeting customer needs.

"We are also working hand-in-hand with the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and North Dakota State University to develop best management practices to reduce inputs while maintaining the high quality crops required by our customers.

"Our sustainability efforts have been recognized as industry leading. Third party audits verify the progress we have made. These independent organizations have given us some of the highest marks in the industry. In March 2013, our farm scored 2,145 out of 2,150 points in a study of sustainable farming.

"This is all to say, Park Rapids is our home. We support more than 500 jobs at the Park Rapids processing facility, provide food to the Pine Point Food Shelf and contribute to the backpack food program for kids in Perham. I have a home here and spend as much time as possible here with my family. We are committed to working with the community and ensuring that Park Rapids remains a great place to live and work.”