Potatoes Amid Pandemic Pt 2

Potatoes Amid Pandemic Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
I’m Bob Larson. The pandemic has created challenges for everyone in agriculture, but Washington potato farmers are feeling it as much as anyone. When restaurants shut down in the early days of the COVID response, demand for processed potatoes shut down as well.

Matthew Blua, with the Washington Potato Commission, says that situation left growers holding the bag, so to speak …

BLUA … “But, that still left us with an awful lot of potatoes in storage that had to go to various places and some actually ended up going to cattle feed and that’s certainly not where we want to see out potatoes go, but because of the shutdown in restaurants across the world, and mind you this is worldwide issue, they had nowhere to go.”

So, Blua says they had few choices …

BLUA … “They have to be either stored cold, in cold storage, or they have to be stored frozen. And, when those storage facilities are all taken, you can’t go out and stack them like bales of hay.”

The problem for Washington growers, Blua says is that most of our potatoes are destined to be French Fries …

BLUA … “There’s an interesting way there are winners and losers in agriculture. Processing potatoes is one of the losers, but fresh market potatoes were not.

They didn’t get nearly as badly impacted. The price is quite good now. But, overall, because of this pandemic, we’re down about 20,000 acres in this state. That’s about 145,00 acres.”

Listen tomorrow for more on the pandemic and Washington potatoes.

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