Washington Growers Taking More 'Hits'

Published online: Aug 18, 2004
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Washington state potato growers have been taking more than their fair share of "hits" recently.

But another tough announcement was made this week when the Japanese "K" shipping line said it will end service to the Port of Portland in December. The K line will be the second Japanese line to cancel cargo shipping from Portland.

Washington growers, who have an easier haul to Portland than to Tacoma or Seattle, are not happy with the announcement. Barge traffic down the Columbia from Pasco could be jeopardized by the loss of another shipping line.

Shipping lines have been threatening to pull out of Portland because they cannot carry full loads out of the port because of the shallowness at the mouth of the Columbia river. 

Pres. Bush has promised he would allow money for dredgeing three more feet from the river channel, going from 40 to 43 feet deep, but the funds have not yet been granted by Congress.

This announcement comes at a time when Washington growers are trying to settle tariff rates, cover up of disease issues in seed, and minesterial exemption issues with Canada.

When you add to this the fight the state is having with environmentalists over the Endangered Species Act and the potential loss of crop-protection products, it has the Washington Potato Commission and Potato Grower of Washington offices busy.

Washington has had support from California and Oregon on the ESA and tariff issues. It is receiving support from those states along with Idaho and Montana on seed issues. 

The National Potato Council is now organizing for a showdown with Canada on tariff, seed, minesteral exemptions and other issues in the near future.

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