Potato Industry May Face Turbulent Waters For Years Because Of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic sent shockwaves throughout the Washington potato industry earlier this year, when processing contracts were canceled thanks to closed restaurants and schools around the globe. And the local potato industry may feel that ripple for several years to come. Chris Voigt, Executive Director of the Washington state Potato Commission, said COVID-19 has impacted the potato seed industry, hurting growers in Washington, Montana, as well as Eastern Idaho.

“Because all of our contracts in Washington state have been cut anywhere from 10% to 100%, so there was a lot of seed that was never used [during 2020 planting].  So, there’s a lot of seed farms in those other states and here in Washington that are suffering financially, and no one knows if they are going to survive.”

Voigt noted that seed farmers are working on seeds that will be used three years from now, so trying to find the correct balance could take a few growing seasons.

“It’s not an easy fix, I mean, this is going to have implications for the next two to three years.”

While the potato industry has been rocked over the last three months by uncertainty, and a glut of processing potatoes, growers have been visiting different corners of the state, giving away potatoes to Washingtonians in need.

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