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Entrapment: US potato processing industry ambushed by pandemic

According to a report published earlier this week by the Washington Ag Network, the National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing.

According to the Council, more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.

Mountains of potatoes, they noted, are being given away or left to cow feed as surplus crops are piling up despite government efforts to distribute the potatoes as part of food boxes being given to needy families.

According to the Washington Ag Network report, the potato sector feels like the USDA’s new Farmers to Families Food Box program, as well as other initiatives, aren’t enough to dent the losses in a sector that depends heavily on food service sales. Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, said, “It was clear the people who were doing well in retail could probably take more advantage of this than the impaired side of the business, which is food service.”

The NPC sent a letter to USDA saying, “This oversupply has impacted both the 2019 and 2020 crop for U.S. family farms that grow potatoes. Some of these farms will have no ability to sell their 2019 or 2020 crop.” The industry suggested several enhancements regarding eligibility and payment rate adjustments that will help USDA help the industry.

Click here to read the letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Source: Washington Ag Network
Photo: Courtesy KTVB.com

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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