Despite a sense of that the end of the pandemic may be in sight, a host of challenges remain before potato growers in Washington state. Chris Voigt, Executive Director for the Washington state Potato Commission told Glenn Vaagen of PNW Ag Network that one of the biggest challenges is not in the field, but after the spuds are pulled during harvest. He said several Washington growers were offered a pricing contract this year that was roughly 3%-3.5% smaller than a typical year.
“That’s tough for our growers. We’ve had a very difficult year financially due to the pandemic, and then faced with lower contract prices and potentially volumes, we don’t know where the volumes are, they’re kind of a little all over the board. Some folks will have increases, some folks will have decreases, do it’s a little unsettled.” Voigt says those pricing issues really vary on variety as well as delivery dates.
While challenges remain before potato growers, Voigt said there is reason for optimism, and not just the optimism every farmer needs to have to start a new growing season. “Some of our export markets are rebounding and we’re starting to see growth there. The vaccine is rolling out. We’re starting to see domestic sales start to come back. Those are some good things that will be a big plus for our industry, not only for our frozen growers but then also for our fresh growers too.”