`Lamb' Refuses Added-Value Contract

Published online: Feb 19, 2001
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Potato Growers of Idaho is advising its grower/members along with bankers, dealers, landlords and anyone else with a financial interest in the 2001 crop to be very cautious of the language in the just-offered Lamb-Weston processing contract.

Following presentation of the contract to growers Feb. 16, Lamb-Weston officials were unwilling to add any real dollars or bottom-line value. The two groups could not come to agreement.

Negotiating with Lamb-Weston for several months, PGI bargaining committee members emphasized the increasing costs of fertilizer, fuel, power and several other factors expected to drive the cost of producing potatoes up to nearly $2,000 per acre this year.

Nitrogen is expected to cost 30 percent more, fuel and petroleum-based chemicals are projected to cost 20 percent more and electrical power rates are expected to increase by 25-50 percent.

The contract includes a base price increase. However, the money was taken away from some incentive clauses and added to the base price, resulting in no overall increase in the contract value.

The issue will be discussed at a Blackfoot, ID, Civic Auditorium meeting Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. At the same time, power company representatives are expected to make a presentation of the power buyback proposal they will offer to irrigators this summer to decrease the consumption of power.

At a meeting of growers held Monday in Burley, ID, Idaho Power made a 12-cent per kWh offer to irrigators. The general mood of growers was that it is not enough to entice many-except for maybe the larger growers-to want to take part.