With close to 50% of its seed potatoes being exported, Sklarczyk Seed Farm of Johannesburg recently was recognized for its export growth with the 2019 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year Award.
The award is presented by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“We’re very proud to recognize Sklarczyk Seed Farm with this award,” MDARD Director Gary McDowell says. “Not only is this a homegrown, generational operation run by a great family and supported by an incredible team, but it’s also a model for how Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses continue to adapt and evolve with an ever-changing, global market.”
The company’s beginnings go back to 1942 when Ben Sklarczyk’s grandparents, Michael and Theresa, bought a farm in Johannesburg and began growing potatoes. However, Michael and Theresa saw a growing demand for potato seeds in the market, and the operation became a seed farm.
AG EXPORTER: Sklarczyk Seed Farm is the 2019 Ag Exporter of the Year. Pictured are (from left) Alison Sklarczyk, Ben Sklarczyk and MDARD Director Gary McDowell.
In 1982, the Sklarczyks saw the future of the potato industry in greenhouse-grown seed potatoes, and from that point on, the farm began producing high-quality potato tubers (a thickened underground part of a stem bearing buds from which new plants arise).
Today, Ben and his wife, Alison, and their team hydroponically produce nearly 6 million tubers every year, and 100% of their production is grown in Michigan.
In 2001, Sklarczyk Seed Farm began export operations, and from 2016 to 2018, its exports increased by more than 16%. Today, more than 41% of its total product is exported to countries such as Canada, Egypt, Chile, Thailand, Germany and Brazil.
As a result of this growth, three new jobs were created at Sklarczyk Seed Farm.
“We are honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Ag Exporter of the Year Award,” says Ben Sklarczyk, CEO of Sklarczyk Seed Farm. “As a boy growing up around our operation, I never dreamed SSF would have a worldwide impact on the potato industry. Today, I greatly value the customer relationships we have formed and the team we have at SSF, which helps grow some of the best seed potatoes in the world.”
The award review committee consisted of representatives from Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C.; Michigan State University; Michigan Farm Bureau; Comerica Bank; and the Van Andel Global Trade Center. The decision was made based on export growth in the past three years, job creation from exporting and ability to enter new markets.
To be eligible for this award, more than 50% of a company’s product must be grown and produced in Michigan, and exports must have contributed a substantial amount to a company’s overall growth.
For information about past winners and the International Marketing Program, visit michigan.gov/agexport.