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Idaho: Thaw seen in potato bargaining

 Idaho Potatoes
Idaho potato growers and processors are back at the bargaining table after a bitter split two years ago.

Leaders of the Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative said they're confident the group will reach a 2011 contract settlement with major french fry processors such as ConAgra, J.R. Simplot Co. and McCain Foods.

SIPCO Executive Director Dan Hargraves said the co-op has been back in talks with the three major processors this winter and expects to finalize something soon.

ConAgra was the first to commit to going through the collective bargaining process this year, Hargraves said.

"I see no reason that the other processors wouldn't follow their lead,"he said. "I think we will have this thing wrapped up by early March."

Typically when a growers' bargaining group reaches an agreement with one major processor, the deal is contingent upon the other processors agreeing to similar terms.

Hargraves said both Simplot and McCain have indicated that they intend to match up with the ConAgra offer, but talks are still under way, he said Feb. 17.
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