Potato growers from across the United States can't agree on whether or not the industry should request a crop-diversion program from the USDA.
In a specially called meeting held in Las Vegas, NV, Thursday, Nov. 30, representatives from several potato-producing states stalemated on whether the industry should divert part of its crop for non-food uses.
While the industry seems solidified behind an USDA program to use potatoes for school lunch and charitable programs, differences ran the gamut on a total diversion program run by the USDA.
A grower group led by Keith Esplin, president of the Potato Growers of Idaho, spoke in favor of the program. Pat Boss, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, said growers in his state are 100 percent against such a program.
Other representatives from areas of the country brought mixed support to the table.
The USDA wants a united industry to set up such a program. The USDA does have $200 million available to buy commodities for charitable and school lunch programs. The industry is hopeful some of that money can be used to buy potatoes and potato products.