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PGI Files for Trade Adjustment Assistance

Potato Growers of Idaho (PGI) is asking the USDA to provide growers with assistance under a program intended to help compensate producers for damages suffered as a consequence of increased imports of foreign farm products. PGI filed a request for assistance under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers program prior to the Jan. 31 deadline.

“We have been studying the program for the last year to determine if we could prove our case to the government’s satisfaction,” said Keith Esplin, PGI executive director. “Several consultants have provided us with an analysis that conclusively documents a 30 percent reduction in fresh-market prices that was caused by a surge in frozen french fry imports from Canada.”

Because Idaho’s crop is interchangeable from the fresh market to the frozen process market, the analysts concluded that the large volumes of imported Canadian french fries were the root cause of the loss in value suffered by Idaho growers for the crop year of 2003.

If the petition filed with the USDA is successful, it would mean that direct payments of up to $10,000, technical assistance and educational benefits would be extended to affected growers. Under terms of the program, USDA has 40 days from receipt of the application to consider its merits. As part of the process, PGI leadership will testify before a USDA panel in Washington, D.C., on March 2. Under terms of the program, all petitions are scheduled to be judged for eligibility by mid-March. Growers will then have 90 days to apply for benefits.

“We believe we are justified in seeking this assistance on behalf of our Idaho grower members,” said Doug Hanks, PGI president. “It’s just a matter of making the case to USDA’s satisfaction. We’re confident that we have provided the government with what they need.”

Originally posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2005

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