Canada, U.S. Potato Growers Take Cooperative Steps

Representatives of seven potato producing provinces, accounting for more than 96 percent of the potato acres grown in Canada, met with the board of directors of the United Potato Growers of America Aug. 25 in Toronto. This meeting followed a similar session held in Prince Edward Island in June and was attended by more growers from more Canadian provinces.

The purpose of the meeting was to jointly consider cross-border programs and cooperation that will greatly improve profitability for all growers in both countries. Since the PEI meeting, provincial potato boards/organizations and the legal counsel for United Potato Growers of America have been working to find the best way for growers in the two countries to align their efforts to improve potato markets.

At the Toronto meeting, Canadian growers agreed to form a steering committee with representation from each province to more concretely define methods for collaborating between provinces and establishing a formal link with the United Potato Growers of America.

Canadian provinces represented at the Aug. 25 meeting included Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

United Potato Growers of America is a grower cooperative that was formed with the mission of restoring profitability to the potato growing industry. This is primarily being done with a three-phase approach to bring supply in line with demand. The first phase involved managing the number of acres planted to potatoes through a Bid Buy Down Program. With this program, U.S. growers reduced 2005 fresh and seed potato plantings by over 35,000 acres. Following UNITED’s lead, Prince Edward Island implemented a similar program which reduced its potato acreage by close to 9,600 acres. Subsequent phases will be implemented by United if necessary.

Originally posted Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005