COVID-19 News, News May 2020, North America, Storage, Trade/Markets/Prices, Trends

US potato industry waiting and watching for COVID-19 relief

The potato industry needs more help than what the government has given so far, Kam Quarles believes. He spoke to The Packer’s Tom Karst on May 7.

The shutdown of the foodservice sector related to shelter at home mandates has had sudden and severe consequences for growers, he said.

“We lost a substantial amount of those customers overnight; it was a real education on how efficiently the supply chain operates when everything is going great,” he said. “But when you hit a crisis like this, that amazing, complicated supply chain just grinds to a halt,” he said.

The lack of movement at processors has backed up the supply chain and created damage to growers of seed, processed and fresh potatoes. Individual family farms that rely on processed contracts their livelihood are being pushed to the brink of insolvency,” he said. 

“Our major focus is getting some relief to those to those growers, and obviously freeing up the supply chain for those processors and other entities so supply and demand can start to balance.”

The industry is waiting for USDA surplus commodity purchases, the Farmers to Families Food Box program and the direct payments to growers to begin to take effect on the market, but advocates are also looking ahead as to what else may be needed, Quarles said.

Original report in The Packer here, where you can also watch a video.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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