Contract Growers On Their Own

Published online: Apr 12, 2001
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Potato Growers of Idaho will not endorse processor contracts that were finalized this week by the three major processing companies-Simplot Foods, McCain Foods and Lamb-Weston (Con-Agra).

PGI Vice President of Marketing and Bargaining Dan Moss said in a news statement that after 11 months of negotiations, the contracts are ready for growers to accept or reject-on their own accord.

"Bargaining committee members worked very hard to make the contract values as equal as possible. We are reasonably satisfied the contracts are equal and the playing field is level among the three companies.

Moss continued, "Although the contracts are `settled,' none of the contracts were approved by PGI. We could not give approval because the processors were not willing to add the increasing costs of inputs to the 2001 contract value.

"The processors took a firm position, that if Idaho growers are willing to plant over 400,000 acres, they must not need an increase."

Moss reiterated that process contract volume will be cut across the board with a best estimate that there will be a 20 percent cut between the three companies. "We are certain we will not get an acceptable contract price increase until Idaho growers take a more responsible approach to plantings."

Moss added that revenue insurance had been a big contributor to overproduction, but it is likely to be less of a factor this year.

All three companies will have a field-run price of $4.42 for russets; Rangers, $4.37; and Shepodys, $4.68 at Lamb-Weston and $4.48 at Simplot and McCain. More money has been placed on the base price and less on incentives. Each company has a $3.50 minimum price and major changes to language, making them less risky. Each company has also increased the cull price to $2.50 from last year's $2.