Potato Growers of Idaho announced Dec. 9 that they "are very close" to getting purchasing terms of agreement on potato packing/processing facilities for the new Potato Growers of Idaho Cooperative System.
Executive Director Mike Duff told the members at their annual meeting that they must look at vertical integration of their production to grab profit opportunities.
No details of possible purchases were revealed, but Duff said an independent auditor is going over records of "substantial facilities" and will provide financial data to the group in the very near future.
"This will be designed to help everyone," Duff said. "If you're a superior grower you will be paid the worth of your potatoes. You will be paid what your potatoes are worth."
Duff explained that the cooperative will market potatoes in the fresh, fry and dehy segments. "Nobody will be left out," he added.
Duff said the PGI Cooperative committee has spent hundreds of hours working on the co-op and they are committed and very excited about it. "We went to the Supreme Court and over rode Clinton's line-item veto, didn't we?" he asked.
Duff was speaking of the action of the PGI three years ago in successfully defending the right of cooperatives to buy facilities and offer sellers capital tax-gain deferments "of very high taxes." He said this makes selling facilities at this time very attractive to some owners.
Speaking of other cooperatives now in operation, Duff said a confederation of these co-ops could be formed to help shore up prices for growers. This is legal under the law. He said many customers are getting larger and the co-op-with its production and marketing capabilities-could meet all their large-purchase needs.
PGI President Keith Esplin said the integrated, vertical potato co-op would offer advantages to customers and "help us keep our families and communities."