Schutter Seed Farm Potatoes (copy)

Potatoes fly along a series of conveyer belts before being loaded into trucks on their way to customers’ farms April 23 at Schutter Seed Farm in Manhattan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Potato Council today welcomed USDA’s announcement of a $50 million surplus potato purchase to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The potato purchase, the largest of all the specialty crop purchases, was part of a $470 million food purchase recently announced by USDA. This purchase is in addition to those previously announced by USDA.

“Given the size of the crisis involving potatoes, this purchase is a partial down payment on the industry’s overall relief needs and more will be needed. In the short term, the announcement is very positive in that it provides clarity on the immediate relief efforts and gives family farms hope for more to come,” said Britt Raybould, NPC president.

NPC CEO Kam Quarles said the industry needs Congress and the Trump Administration to partner toward defending American family farms during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Due to mandated shutdowns, the U.S. potato industry has been reeling from an oversupply of processing potatoes left over from the 2019 harvest,” Quarles said. “Individual potato growers and state potato associations have distributed millions of pounds of potatoes to charities, food banks and local drop off locations nationwide, incurring substantial financial losses in support of the needy despite their own businesses being threatened by the pandemic.”

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products. The food will then be provided to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.

NPC represents the interests of U.S. potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues.