(Feb. 14) When it comes to educating potato growers, associations and universities do a good job of covering the production side of the industry, said Lee Frankel, president and chief executive officer of the Salt Lake City-based United Potato Growers of America.

The economics side, however, could use some work. Frankel hopes a new partnership between United Potato and Manheim, Germany-based Bayer CropScience will help close that gap, providing growers with tools to help them better target prospective markets and meet customers’ needs.

At an industry meeting Feb. 11 in Las Vegas, United Potato and Bayer announced a deal in which Bayer will host several educational seminars this year in major U.S. potato growing regions.

“This will raise the economic literacy of growers, so they can be more proactive and in control of their own destinies,” Frankel said.

While Bayer is known for its work in the production side of the industry, the data it has collected while figuring out how to best market its crop protection and other products can serve growers well on the economic side, as well, Frankel said.

“From what I saw in Las Vegas, they have a lot of information that I haven’t seen presented by anyone else,” he said.

Frankel said that applies not just to the potato industry, which he recently joined, but also to the entire produce industry. In November, Frankel resigned as president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

While more technical, production-focused issues will play a role in the educational sessions, the emphasis will be squarely on economics, Frankel said.

The benefit in the partnership for Bayer, Frankel said, is the company will gain face-to-face access to existing and potential customers it wouldn’t get from, say, a magazine advertisement.

Seminars this year are scheduled in Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, California and other growing areas.

Also at the Las Vegas meeting, United established partnerships with two other companies: AMVAC Chemical Corp., Newport Beach, Calif.; and WinField Solutions, Shoreview, Minn.