Idaho potato growers will vote Monday in Burley on contracts with McCain Foods and J.R. Simplot Co. paying a 1.6 percent average increase, according to sources involved in negotiations.
Lamb Weston growers ratified contracts in early February with the same increase.
Dan Hargraves, who represented growers in negotiations spanning two months as executive director of Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative, anticipates members will approve the contracts. However, he'd hoped for increases averaging 3–7 percent to recoup additional costs associated with zebra chip.
Zebra chip, spread by potato psyllids, first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the 2011 season and creates bands in spud flesh that darken when fried.
"It seems like our costs really took a backseat to (processors') concerns about overproduction," Hargraves said.
Depending on variety and farm location, grower payments would range from $7 to $8 per cwt on field-run potatoes—gross weight less dirt and foreign material. Most contracts would include some level of increase.
SOURCE: John O’Connell, Capital Press