Idaho Potato Growers on Impact of COVID

Idaho’s potato season was promising at the beginning of the year. The Idaho Farm Bureau shows how the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.

According to Randy Hardy with Hardy Farms, “It was fantastic, clear up until the virus hit. I was telling people I farmed for 48 years waiting for a year like this because it was the perfect storm. We had a few less acres, so less potatoes and it looked like it was going to be a good marketing year and I happened to have a good crop, pretty good yields and excellent quality.”

When the country shut down and COVID protocols were set in place, the market and consumer demand shifted. “Our market was pretty good for a week or so, food service slowed down but retails was asking for more, everybody was starting to go to stores,” Hardy notes. “It started to affect us because our sheds are built for 85 percent food service.”

“It looked like it was a slam dunk, a home run,’ Handy Farms’ Merrill Handy states. “Everything had lined up, for Idaho growers; it looked really positive towards having a favorable market return for 2019... it was just like an overnight avalanche of panic and extreme caution.”