Idaho Growers Face `Make Or Break'

Published online: Jan 15, 2001
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Over 200 growers met in Idaho Falls this afternoon for what was scheduled to be the last of a series of meeting for a self-help potato-diversion program.

Doors were closed to non-growers part way through the meeting to enable them to speak freely and hear the numbers for the first time. No one involved in the Potato Management Committee has disclosed what amount of potatoes has been pledged for diversion to either food banks or fertilizer.

During the open portion of the meeting, potato analysts explained that if growers can move stock numbers downward in time for the Feb. 1 stocks-on-hand report, it could mean an upswing in prices for the rest of the season.

Bruce Huffaker, editor of the North American Potato Market News, said that just getting 5 million cwt out of storage before Feb. 1 could move prices.

On the other hand, if nothing is done, growers will still have the same low price-which is projected to go as low as 75-cents per cwt-and an oversupply of stocks for the May 1 storage report.

Don Gerhardt of the the Idaho State Statistics Service said the numbers to be diverted would have to be certified before his office would include them as "shrinkage." A suggestion has been made to have retired growers volunteer to verify diversion in their areas except of their own storages.

Gary Bingham, director of the PMC, said before the meeting that things looked good but the matter of type of diversion and verification still have to be worked out.