North America

USDA’s ‘Farmers to Food Box’ program to ramp up next week, Trump says

The United States will purchase 3 billion dollars worth of dairy, meat and produce from farmers and ranchers starting early next week, President Donald Trump announced in a Tweet on Saturday. “The USA will be purchasing, from our farmers, ranchers & specialty crop growers, 3 billion dollars worth of dairy, meat & produce for food lines & kitchens,” Pres Trump said in a tweet Saturday afternoon. The U.S. president noted that the government purchase is part of the USDA “Farmers to Family Food Box,” calling it “great news for all.”

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The great potato giveaway: Photo collage of a series of most unprecedented events due to an epic potato glut

Everyone involved in the potato industry is at this point aware of the massive potato glut that is currently at the order of the day in particularly the giants among potato producing states in the US – Washington and Idaho. A glut that was unforeseen just a number of weeks ago; is unprecedented in volume and scale; is threatening and disrupting the livelihoods and operations of many potato growers; put an unusual strain on a previously oiled and highly effective supply chain; and will no doubt have dire consequences for the potato industry in the near and even medium future.

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Food for thought: ‘Enjoy the potatoes before reality hits’

The following thoughtful piece was written by Katie Teachout, the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal in Washington State. “Who can deny the beauty of a crisp fall day full of late-season sunshine and laughter in the air, as gorgeous crimson leaves twirl down to the ground from stately oaks, maples and other American hardwoods? Last Wednesday, at the potato giveaway in Ritzville, the air had many of those same elements. …But just as the beauty of the falling leaves is a sure signal of cold times ahead, the potato give-away is certainly a fair warning of things that may come to pass.

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Bayer launches new insecticide for Canadian potato growers

Bayer announced the registration of the active ingredient, tetraniliprole, which will be launched commercially in the registered end use product Vayego insecticide. For potato growers, the insecticide can be used to control Colorado potato beetles, potato flea beetles and European corn borer.

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Covid-19 brings mixed news for Colorado potatoes

The good news in Colorado’s fresh potato industry is that retail demand has been very strong this spring, because of, or in spite of, the Coronavirus pandemic. James Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said movement from Colorado potato storages is so strong that those shippers may finish distributing the 2019 crop by July. “Prices are strong,” he added in an April 29 interview. The discouraging coronavirus news for the Colorado — and national potato industry — is the decline in foodservice sales.

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An industry in need: Canadian Federation of Agriculture reaches out to govt in heartfelt video message

In a heartfelt message titled “An Urgent Message from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture”, the CFA reaches out to the federal government in the country, voicing the hardships that many farmers experience at this time. In the opening lines, it is said: This year, Canadian farmers are facing some very challenging times and they need your help. Farmers in Canada grow food not only for Canadians, but for people all over the world. It urges Canadians to visit www.supportcanadianfood.ca.

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The great potato giveaway: U.S. farmers hand out spuds to avoid food waste

In Washington, the No. 2 U.S. potato growing state after Idaho, a billion pounds of russet potatoes, normally processed into french fries and hash browns, are sitting in warehouses that would typically be emptying ahead of the July harvest, the Washington State Potato Commision said. Instead, the organization is handing out the surplus for free in brown sacks, 100,000 pounds at a time.

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Too much, too long: Canada’s Manitoba potato growers reach breaking point

Some potato growers in Manitoba have reached a breaking point and not just because of COVID-19. Manitoba’s potato industry has been suffering for more than 18 months. There was a difficult harvest in 2018, a much worse harvest in 2019, potatoes rotting in storage this winter and production cuts this spring. The personal stress has been building and a number of producers are questioning why they continue to grow potatoes.

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America’s pandemic snack: Lay’s potato chips

Stuck at home with nowhere to go, many Americans can’t help but snack more, and many are grabbing a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Since mid-March — when the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic — the number of Americans likely to purchase Lay’s has increased by 35 percent. Right now, 18 percent of the American population say they’re likely to purchase a bag of Lay’s, the highest that figure has been in three years (that figure is even slightly higher at 19 percent among those who are in-market to buy snacks in the next 30 days).

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What lies beneath: WSU team studies three-way interaction between potatoes, powdery scab, and mop top virus

A team of Washington State University scientists are taking on a destructive complex of diseases affecting valuable potato crops. Over the last few years Washington’s potato industry has encountered a new threat: Potato mop top virus, a pathogen that lives in soil and attacks the tuber, darkening the flesh and making potatoes unsellable. Mop top is spread by a protist, a fungus-like microorganism, that causes a disease called powdery scab which blemishes valuable tubers as it infects neighboring plants.

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COVID-19 puts the brakes on potato acres as McCain and Simplot scale down in Canada’s Manitoba province

Manitoba’s potato acres will take a hit this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and plummeting demand. According to multiple industry sources, McCain Foods has dropped 16 per cent of acres from its contracts with Canada’s Manitoba farmers, while Simplot has also made smaller cuts from its agreements. Why it matters: As demands shrinks, less processing potatoes will go into the ground this year, as well as sending up a cloud of uncertainty for seed potato growers.

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Potatoes USA: Total retail dollar sales increased by 15.5% in third marketing quarter

IRI data for the third quarter of the marketing year (January – March 2020) showed growth in both dollars and volume for total potato sales at retail, Potatoes USA says. Total dollar sales increased by 15.5% and volume increased by 15%. Every category increased in both dollar and volume sales except for deli-prepared sides. Fresh potato sales also increased in dollar and volume sales by 19.2% and 15%, respectively, with all potato types increasing in volume sales.

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Canada: $4.7M in funding will keep 40M kg of potatoes out of landfill, says P.E.I. govt

The P.E.I. government says its $4.7 million in funding for the potato industry will result in 40 million kilograms of Island potatoes being processed, rather than potentially going into landfill. But one of the principal players in the three-way arrangement, processor Cavendish Farms, says it is still reviewing government announcements at this time. General manager of the PEI Poato Board, Greg Donald said the arrangement would benefit the entire industry — not just growers selling to Cavendish Farms, who will now have a market for these potatoes.

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Canadian govt aims to help redistribute stranded potatoes; farmers say new program may not be enough

A first-of-its-kind federal program aimed at redistributing surplus food during the COVID-19 pandemic is an initial step toward moving some of the thousands of tonnes of excess potatoes currently stuck in storage on southern Alberta farms, producers say. However, farmers warn the $50-million program will only go so far, meaning large quantities of good-quality potatoes could still end up being turned out onto fields and left to rot this summer.

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Potato surplus and halted processing impacts new Alberta crops

The surplus of potatoes waiting in storage in Alberta due to COVID-19 is a major issue. Officials say that surplus is now impacting future crops. Growers have about a 25 per cent cutback on their 2020 acres. There’s going to be about 100,000 tonnes in Alberta that have no home. The Potato Growers of Alberta projects the loss to producers at around $26 million, with another $5 to $6 million loss to seed growers alone.

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Lamb Weston, RDO Frozen donate 37,000 pounds of frozen potato products to Great Plains Food Bank

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Plains Food Bank was serving one in eight people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. But during the pandemic, the food bank’s pantries have seen a 44% increase in need. Mobile pantries have seen a 79% increase. But then a truckload of potato products came courtesy of Lamb Weston and RDO Frozen and amounted to 37,000 pounds of potato products like hashbrowns.

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McDonald’s Canada launches ‘Fries For Good’ initiative for COVID-19 relief and other efforts

McDonald’s Canada today announced Fries For Good, a nationwide initiative to support COVID-19 relief efforts and other recent Canadian tragedies. From May 8-21, 2020, McDonald’s Canada will donate a portion of the proceeds from all fries sold in Canada to the Canadian Red Cross, supporting the Canadian Emergencies & COVID-19 Response Fund, the Nova Scotia Stronger Together Fund, and disaster response and preparedness work across Canada. Fries For Good is also a way for McDonald’s Canada to continue its unwavering support for Canadian farmers.

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Potato power: Potatoes serve high quality plant protein that helps to maintain women’s muscles

Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle. The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources. This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle.

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Under shadow of COVID-19, Prince Edward Island potato growers face uncertain season

Some of Canada’s Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) potato farmers have already begun planting this year’s crop. But even before most potatoes are in the ground, many producers are facing an uncertain future for their product, which could affect decisions they make around what to plant this spring, along with the money they’re able to make once potatoes have been harvested. An overall drop in potato acres planted this season is expected, and a drop in revenues.

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A world-only? Mr Potato Head in Rhode Island now “COVID-correct” with face mask and all…

If there is something that can be said for certain about potato lovers around the world, it is that they all passionately care not only about their favourite veggie, but most often about each other’s welfare. This simple truth can be seen when you look at the loving care bestowed on the Mr Potato Head statue at the Clements’ Marketplace in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He now (dutifully) wears a face mask – signifying the realities of the times we live in today.

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NPC CEO on COVID-19 and its impact on the potato industry

The Eye on Potatoes Podcast is brought to you by the National Potato Council. This is the place to tune in for conversations with growers and thought leaders on advocacy, production and all things potatoes. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles and Eye on Potatoes host Lane Nordlund sat down during this podcast to discuss the latest on COVID-19, its impact on the potato industry, the government response, and how NPC and its state partners are supporting growers in this unprecedented time.

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Idaho potatoes to be sold online?

According to a Capital Press report, the Idaho Potato Commission is considering advertising on major online sales platforms such as Amazon, Walmart and Kroger Co. websites. “If we ran a program starting in May through August, it could cost a little over $100,000,” Commission CEO Frank Muir said. Costs would be covered by recently lower spending on travel and on certain promotion and incentive programs. He has not yet made a formal recommendation to commissioners.

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Podcast: Adding to the potato rotation to boost soil health

This episode of the Potatoes in Canada podcast series “Tuber Talk” focuses on the practices in Prince Edward Island, one of Canada’s largest potato producing provinces. Ryan Barrett, research coordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board, shares what crops P.E.I. producers are adding to the rotation to boost soil health. Barrett discusses what they’ve seen with mustards, buckwheat, sorghum sudangrass, Pearl millet, on top of sharing his experiences working on the Island.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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