July/August 2019
EU’s ban on CIPC a situation to watch for US potato industry By Zeke Jennings

There are many stages of production for potato growers, and they don’t end when the crop is harvested from the field. Storage is an essential part of the potato supply chain. Just as many problems can occur in storage as they can in the field.

One of them is sprouting. A major friend to producers in combatting sprouting over the decades has been chlorpropham, also known as CIPC.

Growers within the European Union will soon be without the benefits of CIPC. In a controversial chain of events that concluded in June, regulatory authorities in the EU officially declined renewal of CIPC as a permissible treatment for crops. The phaseout of its use will begin Jan. 1, 2020. (See our story for more on that development and what the industry is doing to find alternatives.)

CIPC remains approved for use in the U.S. and should be for the foreseeable future. The Environmental Protection Agency recently reviewed and renewed its use. Per the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, chemicals are reviewed every 15 years.

During the review process, then-National Potato Council CEO John Keeling testified that an estimated 55 to 65% of U.S.-produced potatoes are treated with CIPC.

Collectively, the nations of the EU produce the second-most amount of potatoes in the world — only China grows more — and some of the globe’s biggest exporters are EU members, including The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.

If sprout control becomes a significant issue there, it could have a big impact for the potato industry. Could EU growers start struggling to meet the needs of their trading partners? Possibly.

Could other nations follow the EU’s lead and rule crops they import not be treated with CIPC? Also possible.

The EU’s reversal on CIPC will have ripple effects in the potato industry. What they are and to what extreme remains to be seen.

For more on storage, check out the results of our reader survey and an informative story by researchers Nora Olsen and Jayntay Sastry on avoiding pressure bruise.

— Spudman managing editor Zeke Jennings can be reached at [email protected].

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