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Dan Sawatzky, Keystone Potato Producers Association
Keystone Potato Producers Association based in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, has yet to complete negotiations with Simplot Canada II over a contract for 2014 production.

Dan Sawatzky, manager for the association and a negotiator for the potato producer organization, says negotiations are expected to end soon. The association earlier completed talks with McCain Foods Canada on April 25, with undisclosed price terms.

Sawatzky says the growers are concerned but aren’t yet panicked because very few potatoes have been planted in the region. Simplot cut volumes by about 10 percent from last year. McCain is expected to be down 20 percent.

Manitoba is Canada’s second-largest potato growing region, with about 70,000 acres grown in the province in 2013, on about 63 farms. About 55,000 of those acres are for processing, and the rest for fresh, chip and seed markets.

North Dakota negotiations with Simplot reportedly were completed about three weeks ago. Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, says he doesn’t have firsthand knowledge but understands volumes could be down 2 to 3 percent in North Dakota.

Last year, McCain handled a total of 8.4 million hundredweight at plants in Portage La Prairie and Carberry in Manitoba. Simplot’s plant handled about 5.4 million hundredweight. About 80 percent of potatoes processed in Manitoba are exported to the U.S.