In an effort to help eastern Washingtonians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to move potatoes that don’t have a destination, a host of growers will donate nearly 20 tons of spuds in Ritzville Wednesday morning.
Pomeroy representative Mary Dye, who serves on the Washington state Food Policy Forum, says demand for potatoes from area processors has slowed because of the worldwide pandemic, so many fridges and freezers across the area are full leaving a backlog for local growers. Because of that, producers will donate potatoes to help those in and around the Adams County area.
Potatoes will be handed out Wednesday at 9 a.m. next to Harvest Foods at 610 West First Ave.
“The ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order has dealt an enormous blow to potato farmers because 90% of all Eastern Washington frozen potato products are used in restaurants and other food service establishments,” Dye said. “When those places closed, processing plants curtailed or closed their operations. Now there are more than 30 billion pounds of potatoes in storage.”
“Growers were on track to plant 170 thousand acres of potatoes that were destined for frozen potato processors in Washington and Oregon. Many have already planted the crop, or they had prepared the ground for planting and had taken delivery of seed potatoes. Many had invested nearly $2,300 per acre before planting their first potato. And then the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions hit,” noted Dye. “Now Washington growers are looking at about $73 million in losses, and it is so late in the season that many will not be able to find alternative crops to grow that could recover their losses.”
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