The Idaho potato industry ended up doing well in 2020, despite the pandemic. The industry set an all-time record for cash receipts according to University of Idaho economists. Potatoes brought in $1.08 billion in 2020, a 13% increase compared to the year before, reports Colin Tiernan for MagicValley.com.
Tiernan writes that those record revenues came with a lot of stress and didn’t benefit everyone equally. At different times of the year certain sectors within the potato industry flourished while others saw demand for their products grind to a halt. Many processors temporarily stopped buying potatoes or shut down entirely. Packing sheds, which had plenty of potatoes, had to come up with new ways to keep spuds on grocery store shelves. Struggling farmers received millions of dollars in COVID-19 aid from the federal government both in direct payments and food box purchases.
Potato farmers had high hopes at the start of 2020. Then the pandemic dashed those high hopes. And right when some growers were experiencing the bleakest days of their farming lives, a summertime craving for fast food fries brought back demand to something approaching normal.
In the end, it was a roller coaster year that ended up being a net positive for most Magic Valley potato producers.
Source: MagicValley.com. Read the full story here
Photo: Potatoes go up a conveyor to be graded during a 2019 tour of Mart Produce in Rupert. The Idaho potato industry did well overall in 2020, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. | Drew Nash. Times-News file