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Brian Sackett, of Sackett Potatoes, in Mecosta, Mich., will receive the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Distinguished Service Award at the March 12 ANR Awards Program.

The award honors individuals or partners who have made outstanding contributions to Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources industries, and who possess high standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of the college.

Sackett, along with his son Tyler, manages Sackett Potatoes, located in Mecosta. The Sackett family has been growing potatoes in Michigan since 1905 on their family farm. Under Brian’s management leadership over the last 10 years, Sackett Potatoes has continued to grow crops, careers and legacies. Brian has grown the farm to a total of 18,000 acres across three states. The primary crop grown is 7,500 acres of potatoes for the potato chip industry, marketed to E.K. Bare & Sons, Frito Lay, Inc., Great Lakes Potato Chip Co., Snyder's-Lance Inc., Shearer's Foods, Utz Quality Foods and Wise Foods, Inc.

Brian combines three decades of potato farming experience with today's newest potato farming technology to meet the demands of modern business. He is continually upgrading the potato storages to have state-of-the-art technology to deliver high quality potatoes to customers. Their long-term crop rotation practices provide nutrient balance, prevent pest build-up and avoids the establishment of resistant pest strains. The potato storage facilities have been upgraded with computer-controlled ventilation equipment and humicells, a plant health enhancer. This provides year-round potatoes to customers with the shipment of potatoes out of storage from November to June.

He furthers MSU potato research by hosting the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Common Scab Screening trial each year on his farm. He has hosted additional soil health research plots on his farm with Dr. Bird and Dr. Liu over the last two decades. For the past eight years and continuing annually, Sackett donates an acre of land for MSU researchers to screen the breeding material for scab resistance, or rot prevention. Due to this donation, MSU is now advancing potato material to advanced commercial testing that has scab resistance, increased storage chip quality and agronomic performance, which impacts an entire industry. Brian also serves as an industry advisor to university faculty in relation to grower production and storage practices.

He also hosts Potatoes USA NexGen trials (pre-commercialization variety trials), and for the last 15 years, he has brought national recognition to MSU technology and champions commercialization of MSU-developed varieties nationally. In addition, he donates hundreds of dollars’ worth of potato seeds for MSU research trialing purposes.

His industry affiliations include service on the Potatoes USA National Chip Program Steering Committee and Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC) chairman in 2016. He also currently serves on the Isabella Bank board of directors.

Sackett is involved in many other personal and community-wide services. He has served as MPIC Storage and Handling Committee chair for the past 11 years. He’s a member of the MPIC Variety Release Committees since 2015, and is a member of the MPIC Research Committee since 2012.

He has also developed a culture of giving within his business to encourage his family members and staff to lead a life of service to others. He works with the Food Bank Council of Michigan to supply potatoes for distribution to people facing food insecurity. He also donates a considerable amount of money to the Angels of Action organization, along with potato donations to help them achieve their mission of supplying food to children facing hunger.

He has been honored for his service with the MPIC Distinguished Service Award in 2000 and 2009, given to individuals for their significant service to the potato industry.


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