The Potato Research Advisory Committee (PRAC) encourages national collaboration, identifies common research objectives, solicits and evaluates research projects, and creates a focus on a limited number of nationally supported proposals that meet PRAC’s standards.
Committee Membership and Time of Service
The voting membership consists of the following:
- Four growers from the Potatoes USA Research Committee, one of whom serves as the Chair of PRAC.
- Four growers from the National Potato Council (NPC) Grower Outreach and Industry Research Committee from all four time zones.
- Four state potato association managers from all four time zones.
Where possible, state managers on the committee serve four years. This committee is re-nominated each year.
Non-voting attendance is permitted at PRAC meetings by industry members with scientific expertise or interest in evolving science trends.
Duties of PRAC
- Each year, PRAC solicits research topic suggestions from state potato organizations and their research committees, national potato organizations, and other industry partners. Scientists that are members of the Potato Association of America (PAA) receive notification of PRAC’s interest in reviewing their proposals. PRAC then prioritizes the submissions to a small number of broad research focus areas that are nationally relevant. The focus areas are made widely available to the research community and within the industry.
- SCRI funding is a focal point for PRAC due to its alignment with specialty crops and the likelihood of driving success for potato scientific proposals.
- PRAC has considered proposals for funding from seven other funding sources in the past three years. By considering other funding sources, PRAC can maximize the dollars available to potato scientists and the entire industry.
- As a particular funding opportunity is identified, PRAC indicates its intention to identify and support a limited number of high-priority, high-quality, and nationally relevant research proposals addressing the industry-identified research focus areas.
- PRAC evaluates proposals submitted for review and selects a limited number of superior proposals for scientific review. The PRAC committee helps set a goal for the number of letters of support to be solicited from the industry. For SCRI projects, over 50 letters are assembled to assist the scientific team in delivering a strong proposal. In other situations, this goal is scaled back based on available time, the size of the funding request, and the science team’s needs.
History of PRAC
In 2016, the Potato Research Advisory Committee (PRAC) was established to create consensus around the most pressing and far-reaching industry issues—those that can be addressed through applied science and technology. With a membership that includes state managers and growers from across the U.S., PRAC evaluates and supports potato research project submissions to various funding sources, bringing dollars into the potato industry that target industry concerns.
PRAC has succeeded in raising the visibility and clout of the potato research community. Its advocacy and facilitation have earned stronger funding from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), netting the industry nearly $30.7M in total SCRI financing from 2016 to 2022. Scientists in the research community speak of PRAC’s ability to push forward insightful proposals with significant national industry interest and generate a strong body of letters of support that greatly benefit the funding review process.