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Idaho potato industry receives federal aid

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 19:58:40-04

MAGIC VALLEY — Many industries are struggling during this pandemic, particularly the agricultural supply chain. In order to help, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that 470 million dollars would be used to purchase a wide variety of products in separate markets. The money would assist in supporting struggling agricultural producers due to the disruption of the markets due to the Coronavirus.

Fifty million dollars will be designated towards the potato industry, especially since they have been losing a great deal of their income. The aid will assist in getting potatoes back out onto the food-service pipeline.

The money came at a perfect time, says CEO of Cranney Farms, Ryan Cranney, since one of the primary concerns for many farmers was the number of potatoes that were in storage that seemingly were not going to get distributed. “That’s really what most growers were concerned about is being able to utilize those potatoes sitting in storage right now, and so that program is really coming online just, really in perfect timing.”

The reason the timing is so right for Idaho farmers is that the state is gradually reopening, resulting in more eating establishment opening their doors. Ryan Cranney said, "We’re starting to see some demand return, some refilling in the pipeline, so that’s really encouraging. I know that there have been some big fast-food restaurant orders come through for the processed fries."

Cranney Farms was one of many who, before the aid, was giving away free potatoes to the surrounding communities. Their distribution reached over state lines and even as far as Puerto Rico. While the farm enjoyed helping people in such an uncertain time, they are pleased to get business slowly going again.

Molly Page was a volunteer who assisted local farmers in her area by transporting their potatoes to towns throughout the Magic Valley. Being on the forefront and witnessing the economic hardship these farmers are facing, she is delighted that much-needed help is finally being given. Despite the financial assistance, she is still determined to continue her efforts in delivering potatoes to help towns and people who need food.

Farmers are still anticipating financial loss this year due to the pandemic, yet this aid will be able to help many stay afloat.