GROWERS TAKE MCDONALDS PESTICIDE SURVEY

Published online: Apr 14, 2010
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Farmers who grow potatoes that end up as french fries at McDonald's and other fast food restaurants have begun taking surveys about how they produce the crop.
About a year ago, McDonald's bowed to pressure from activist shareholders and
agreed to make an effort to cut pesticide usage on spuds used to make its famous french fries.
The fast food giant committed to survey its U.S. supplier base, compile a list of best management practices and communicate the findings to shareholders.
The J.R. Simplot Co., one of McDonald's largest french fry suppliers, took the survey out for a "test drive," this winter, said Dave Ingersoll, Simplot's senior manager for raw product.
Simplot surveyed about 10 to 15 growers in Idaho and the Columbia Basin of Oregon and Washington in December. Some of the company's growers in the Upper Midwest and Canada were also asked to complete the survey, Ingersoll said.
Ingersoll didn't reveal results, but he made it clear that some growers weren't excited about taking the survey.
Farmers may grumble about having to provide all the additional data, but they have little choice, said Dale Lathim, executive director of Potato Growers of Washington.
"Their choice is to do it or not grow processing potatoes," he said. The drive toward more documentation and accountability isn't going away.

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