Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's hope things get better...

About 30 years ago I overheard my uncle, who at the time owned a large potato farm, explaining to a group of young people "that if they wanted to own a small farm then they should just buy a large one and wait"... I'm pretty sure he was just have some fun at the time but unfortunately his words haven't rung hollow with the times. Over the holidays I had a chance to skim through John Brehaut's book on Daniel J MacDonald and it’s interesting to note that today the potato industry is pretty much the same as it was back in the 60's and not much has changed... it appears that over production is one of the major factors to gloomy prices but my guess is consentient quality and uniform marketing also play a big part in it with consumers... I understand that Idaho is currently getting $2.50 a hundred weight which is “just stupid” and let’s hope Idaho and others learn a lesson from this over production and forge an alliance with North American growers to reduce acreage and work towards other solutions to improve the industry for all farmers...
Potato prices crushed by low demand
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
CBC News
Potato farmers are looking at a gloomy season as consumers avoid the spud, and Idaho overproduced by half a million tonnes.
About 100 P.E.I. potato growers met with international representatives of the industry Tuesday to hear the market forecast, and there was little in the way of good news.
"It is depressing news," said Cary Hoffman of the United Potato Growers of North America.
"Our hope right now is to try to make sure that this oversupply of potatoes for this season doesn't impact next season's crops."
For several years now, P.E.I. growers have agreed to cut back on production in an effort to manage supply, an effort supported in previous years by growers in other regions but not so successful in 2009. Growers in Idaho overproduced by 10 million hundred-pound bags.
"This is not about shorting anybody, I want to be clear about that," said Ray Keenan of the United Potato Growers of Canada.
"We want our processors to be well supplied, we want our chain stores to be well supplied, but what we have to get in synch [with] what the demand is."
Farmers also heard that people just aren't eating as many potatoes as they used to, either at home or at restaurants. In addition, the high Canadian dollar is making exports more difficult.
It's all come together to make for low prices.
"It's a poor price; it's a below cost of production price," said Scott Howatt of the P.E.I. Potato Board.
"That's not good, and when you're coming in to a season where you have to arrange credit and get things ready for another crop year, it makes it very difficult."
With prices for table potatoes so low, farmers are facing tough negotiations with french fry processors.
Island farmers will likely agree once again this year to plant fewer potatoes, and hope others will follow their example.

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