Over 200 growers and industry representatives met Tuesday in Idaho Falls, ID, to push the effort for a self-help potato-diversion program.
Gary Bingham, who has a long involvement in the industry, emceed the meeting at which a banker, ag economist and a processor each spoke.
A company called the Potato Management Company has been formed as a legal entity and growers can now sign up at $500 each to join the cooperative that will have a sole mission to divert 10 percent of Idaho's stored 2000 crop.
Keith Esplin, president of Potato Growers of Idaho, was a keynote speaker, but said PGI was only playing a helping role. He turned the meeting over to Bingham who introduced the company. Rolle Walker of Walker Farms gave a "pep talk" for the need to divert potatoes. Walker said Walker Farms is prepared to divert two million cwt.
"You'll either be diverting your potatoes, your home, your equipment or your farm. You have to choose which it will be," he said.
Growers were given sign-up sheets and asked to bring their grower-neighbors to a meeting to be held next Wednesday, Dec. 27, at 1 p.m. at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls to get the required number of growers. If the sign-up does not produce the required 10 million cwt for diversion, the co-op will cease to function.
A second meeting will be held in the Magic Valley after the New Year for growers in that area. The group has set a goal of Jan. 15 to have the potatoes diverted in order for the program to work.