Idaho Seeking to Build New Potato Processing Plant
The need to bring in more potato processing capacity to Idaho was proposed as one of the main ways to increase spud prices during the recently held three regional meetings organized by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). Participants pointed to a recent Idaho Potato Commission-sponsored study that examined all the costs and benefits associated with building a new processing plant in North America and determined that Idaho has the lowest cost of production. Meeting participants asked Farm Bureau leaders to help promote the results of that study
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) organized these meetings to listen to the needs and concerns of Idaho’s potato industry. The sessions were held in Aberdeen, Rexburg and Burley and were attended by a total of 25 growers, as well as a number of state lawmakers. Anyone involved with the state’s potato industry was welcome to attend.
IFBF Director of Commodities and Marketing Zak Miller said the comments and information gleaned from the meetings will help Farm Bureau determine what issues and policies the organization should support as it works on behalf of Idaho potato growers.
IFBF, which has 80,000 members, including 14,000 directly involved with agriculture, is Idaho’s largest general farm organization and roughly half of the state’s farmers and ranchers are members.
“Farm Bureau has the ability to take a position on many things,” Miller said. “But we want to make sure that when we do that, it’s what the growers want. We try extremely hard to know what the will of our local growers is. That’s why we’re having these meetings,” Miller further explained.
One of the major themes of the meetings was the low prices Idaho potato farmers are currently receiving for their spuds and there was a lot of discussion about forming a potato marketing association.
“Marketing is a topic people are talking about because they are unhappy with prices. Everyone agreed it’s a concept that needs to be well thought out and evaluated,” Miller said.
A lot of issues relevant to the potato industry were addressed during the meetings, including immigration reform and current labor shortages, the challenges and expenses posed by the various audits many potato growers have to undergo, and the need for a reliable transportation system.
IFBF has several commodity committees, including a potato committee, that are made up of active farmers or ranchers.