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Farmers Organize to Try to Control Potato Supply

Americans are not eating as many potatoes today: Transcript of radio broadcast.

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Potatoes are a traditional part of American meals. But people are not eating as many potatoes as they did in the past. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that it expects potato use to decrease during the next fourteen years.

Growers say one main reason is that more people are worrying about getting too fat. Several popular weight-reducing plans restrict carbohydrates. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates.

American potato farmers also face competition from foreign growers. To deal with these problems, a non-profit organization is working to get farmers to limit potato production. The United Potato Growers of America was formed more than a year ago. Its members plant most of the potatoes in the nation.

Limiting production breaks with tradition. Over the years, many American potato growers have done their best to grow large crops. The more potatoes they produced, the more they had to sell.

But too many potatoes for sale can mean too little profit. So the potato growers organization wants to reduce the amount of potatoes reaching the market. The goal is to keep demand strong and continuous.

Members promise to reduce their planting of potatoes. They also say they will not send potatoes to market when the supply becomes too large.

The idea began about two years ago when potato growers from the state of Idaho formed the United Potato Growers of Idaho. The group expanded its membership to become the national organization.

Idaho potato grower Albert Wada is board chairman of United Potato Growers of America. Mister Wada recently compared potato prices before and after formation of the organization. Between September, two thousand four and June, two thousand five, overproduction of potatoes brought prices down. But in the same period a year later, growers received an average price increase of four dollars for every forty-five kilograms of potatoes.

But not all potato farmers want to join the organization and restrict their crops. And planting time next spring will bring a test. The organization will learn if members really will limit their planting of potatoes.

And that’s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. To read the next of this program and download audio, go to I’m Steve Ember.