RITZVILLE, Wash. – Washington state farmers will be giving away about 20 tons of potatoes Wednesday morning in downtown Ritzville.
Potato growers will be giving them away next to Harvest Foods in Ritzville (610 W. First Ave) Wednesday, April 29 at 9 a.m. Drive-thru lanes will be set up with social distancing guidelines in place.
Farmers also plan to deliver more potatoes to food banks, churches and local families in need in the next 2-3 weeks.
Washington producers are a major provider of processed potatoes in the global food industry, and COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and food industries have slowed or stopped production of potato products across eastern Washington.
““The ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order has dealt an enormous blow to potato farmers because 90 percent of all Eastern Washington frozen potato products are used in restaurants and other food service establishments,” Pomeroy Rep. Mary Dye said in part.
The Washington State Potato Commission says there are more than 3 billion pounds of potatoes currently sitting in storage, with another 1 billion in fields with nowhere to go.
“Cold storage is limited because the supply of potato products has backed up,” Dye said. “Freezers are full. There’s a lack of demand and all of these unprocessed potatoes have a short shelf life. So our growers are making an enormous sacrifice to give these potatoes away and help feed our communities at the same time.”
Dye added that Washington growers were on track to plant 170,000 acres of potatoes for frozen potato processors in Washington and Oregon, and could be looking at $73 million in losses. The WSPC says many growers may not survive that loss without USDA intervention.
Posted By: Fox 28 Spokane
Posted On: 4/29/2020