BOISE — The House Agricultural Affairs Committee on Jan. 30 advanced a proposal to redraw Idaho Potato Commission districts for grower commissioners, providing more representation from the high-volume east side of the state.

The proposal, House Bill 389, will return to the committee for a hearing. That’s farther than a different version got in 2019, when the committee advised commission officials to seek a consensus from the industry.

“As a whole, the commission is designed to represent the industry, and part of that is to reflect the areas where potatoes are produced,” said Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, the current legislation’s sponsor.

The commission has five growers, two shippers and two processors. They are nominated by the industry and appointed by the governor. They can serve two terms of three years each.

HB 389 would not change the number of commissioners. Instead, it would move grower commissioners’ district boundaries to better reflect high-volume potato production areas in the state and create an at-large grower commissioner on the east side.

The bill would also update the definition of “shipper” to include vertically integrated growers who also have shipping operations, while clarifying that grower, shipper and processor definitions are to be used only in determining qualifications for the commission.

Raybould said this means a vertically integrated producer could seek a grower or shipper seat on the commission.

HB 389 would add a referendum process that would require support from at least six commissioners including growers, shippers and processors, the purpose statement said. It also would establish that commissioners serve at the pleasure of the governor to provide anti-trust protection for the promotion and marketing activities of the commission.

The commission collects a checkoff of 12.5 cents per hundredweight to fund marketing and research. Of that, 7.5 cents come from growers and 5 cents from a shipper or processor.

The checkoff was increased from 10 cents per hundredweight in 2008 largely to pay for more expensive national advertising.

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