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Idaho potato growers accept slight price cut in processing contracts

Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative growers have agreed to a contract that slightly reduces potato prices but requires processors to accept at least 90 percent of their 2014 acreages with individual farms.

SIPCO Executive Director Dan Hargraves said contract prices will be down 1 percent for Lamb Weston growers. He said McCain and Simplot growers will take a 1.5 percent decrease to “make up an inequity from the prior crop year.”

Hargraves said SIPCO sought an acreage guarantee based on slower exports of frozen potato products during the West Coast port labor slowdown.

“There were some reductions by all of the big three in Idaho — Lamb Weston, McCain and J.R. Simplot,” Hargraves said, adding that many nonmembers took larger acreage cuts.

Growers approved the contract in mid-March, and processors are now taking it to fields for signing.

Potato Growers of Washington reached an agreement with processors in November. Executive Director Dale Lathim said his growers accepted the price protection language, described as a “favored nations clause,” and were allowed to roll over last year’s contract rates. If other growing areas agree to lower contracts, Washington’s maximum reduction is capped at 2 percent.

Lathim said Washington growers were also guaranteed 100 percent of their 2014 acreages.

“It’s not something we have to look at often, but this was definitely a year we were concerned about that,” Lathim said.

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