Members of the Washington State Potato Commission went on record today as opposing any type of potato diversion program.
Pat Boss, executive director of the Commission, stated in a news release that, "Looking at the negative, unintended consequences to the marketplace that have occurred as a result of past potato diversion programs by USDA, we decided it was in Washington state's best interest to strongly oppose a diversion.
"The Commissioners have consulted with many growers in their districts and the growers feel that short-term gains will be outweighed by long-range harm."
According to Boss, growers from North Dakota, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio have also come out against a diversion program. Many growers believe a diversion program would distort market signals to cut acreage next year. Others suggest that it will open the door to more frequent government intervention in potato markets, Boss added.
Boss said potato diversions have been used in the United States twice in the last 20 years, with mixed results. Programs in 1978 and 1996 diverted as much as 4 percent of the crop to the livestock feeding market, causing disruption in that market as well.