01 February 2023
Challenges lessening says commission director.
THE challenges faced by potato growers in the US's Washington State over the past couple of years appear to be fading a little, according to a recent Washington State Farm Bureau Report.
The hardships brought about by the COVID-19 virus during 2020 and 2021 had been followed by unexpected changes like inflation and supply chain challenges. An "empty container phenomenon" was slowly destroying the industry until Congress stepped in to address the problem, passing the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act last year.
According to Washington Potato Commission’s Executive Director, Chris Voigt, the bi-partisan bill gave the federal maritime commission a more power in holding shipping lines accountable and meant enforcement tools were introduced so more potatoes could be exported.
Chris said inflation was now the biggest problem for growers.
“Probably the biggest thing right now is the level of input costs for growers, and that’s always a concern because fertiliser and other inputs are just sky-high, as well as fuel costs," he said, adding: "We were hoping that we could get a fair price for your potatoes at the end after you spend all this money.”
He said things had "calmed down a little bit". "There are still difficult challenges sometimes, but it’s not nearly as bad as they had been so I’d like to say now, we’re finally kind of right back to normal.”
He said growers are currently trying to be "as efficient as possible" and hoping inflation pressures will soon ease.