PGI Happy With TAA Benefits Package
Potato Growers of Idaho President Doug Hanks said he was very grateful to the USDA for approving their TAA petitions for relief after potato prices were hurt from french fry imports in 2003.
"We felt good about the case we presented and the various benefits available to our growers under this program...it will help them stay in business or provide educational opportunities for them to pursue other career options."
Keith Esplin, executive director, said, "PGI will be involved with the development of the technical assistance package.... We want to have the best information we can for them to evaluate how they can make their potato businesses compete in a rapidly changing market; furthermore, we want to show those who quit growing potatoes the educational benefits available under TAA."'
Mike Telford, Paul, ID, grower/leader said, "The approval of the trade assistance petition is another proof that NAFTA and free trade have not been good for Idaho growers."
Telford said Canadian growers and processors took advantage of favorable exchange rates, hidden subsidies, and closer proximity to U.S. markets to greatly expand their production of french fries. Idaho growers are still struggling today with surplus production that was in great part caused by loss of markets due to the Canadian expansion.
The package includes technical assistance, cash benefits up to $10,000 and educational opportunities.
Idaho growers can apply for benefits at their FSA offices starting Monday, March 28, until June 27. The technical training will start later, but must be completed by September 26. Growers can get advice from Esplin by calling (208) 785-1110.