Low Fresh Market Prices Stirring Up Idaho Industry

Published online: Oct 18, 2004
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Idaho fresh market growers, tired of several years of low prices, are trying to do something about it.

In a press release sent Friday, a group called United Fresh Potato Growers of Idaho is scheduling a meeting where they will discuss formation of a cooperative of fresh market growers in Idaho and other states.

The group hopes to recover the costs of production and a reasonable profit for its production efforts. A steering committee for the new UFPGI is working to form the co-op.

The co-op is being engineered to respect the independent and entrepreneurial nature of growers while enlisting them in a combined effort to unite and improve a divided and ailing industry.

"Farmer cooperatives operating under the protection of the Capper-Volstead Act are able to establish marketing and supply management policies," the press release said.

Grower interest is reported to be high and the impact could be significant. It could represent a majority of the fresh potato acreage in Idaho. Fresh market growers in other states have committed to work with Idaho to improve similar problems in their states and the nationwide fresh potato industry.

An informational meeting is set for Wednesday, November. 3, at 10 a.m,. in the Shiloh Inn Convention Center in Idaho Falls, ID.

Potato Grower of Idaho Executive Director Keith Esplin says he has been contacted informally about the effort. Esplin says he hopes the co-op will consider working with PGI and its members.

The contact name on the release is Albert Wada of Wada Farms Inc., of Pingree, ID. Wada Farms is one of the largest grower-shippers of fresh potatoes in eastern Idaho. He may be contacted at (208) 684-9801.