Idaho Shaves 26,000 Acres

Published online: Jul 01, 2005 UFPGI
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United Fresh Potato Growers of Idaho announced this week it has cut 2005 fresh market and seed potato acres by 26,000.

Carl Taylor, a United board member, made the declaration to a group of growers in an Idaho Falls, ID, meeting. He said the new co-op's Bid Buy-Down Program plus voluntary efforts proved successful.

"We are very confident that we have done what was needed to reduce potato supplies and restore profitability to Idaho potato farms," Taylor said.

He said the result of the program was kept confidential until the announcement, with only two people privy to the reduction information.

As chairman of the "Future Crop Committee," Taylor's responsibility has been to find a way to reduce acreage in Idaho and bring supply from the '05 crop in line with demand without stimulalting extra planting elsewhere.

The first reduction came as a voluntary cut back of 11,000 acres by a large group of founding members. They did this without compensation to show their sincerity to all growers working together for the good of the industry. On average these growers reduced their acreage by 15 percent.

The Bid Buy-Down Program was modeled after the very successful "Cooperatives Working Together" program of the dairy industry.

Growers submitted bids of how much they would need to be compensated per acre to reduce their acreage. United reviewed the bids and accepted those that offered the best chance to affordably reduce acreage, Taylor explained.

UFPGI noted that some of the processors moved production back to Idaho this year. This will result in a few thousand more acres of contracted fresh fry potaotes in the state, meaning the total number of acres in Idaho will fall by somewhat less than the 26,000 acres, Taylor stated.

Taylor reminded growers not to worry about the additional processing acres, "Those acres have a home and are already sold. They will not have an impact on open-market fresh prices."

The United Potato Growers of America made a contribution to Idaho's effort, donating cash to Idaho's buy-down plan. Taylor stated that without the contribution many of those acres could not have been held back.