Idaho Capitol

The Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative has withdrawn legislation governing negotiations with processors after reaching a contract that will provide a 3% price increase to growers.

House Bill 121 would have put into statute practices that grower associations and fried-products processors have used for 50-plus years to negotiate supply contracts. The legislation would have established an Oct. 31-March 15 negotiating period for associations and processors, and allowed individual grower members to negotiate only if no agreement is reached by the time the period passes.

The bill was prompted by a processor recently dealing directly with individual growers, circumventing the co-op’s talks and potentially reducing prices.

“We withdrew it,” SIPCO Executive Director Chuck Stadick said of the bill. “That does not mean it is dead. It was just withdrawn from a (full) House vote and Senate vote.”

SIPCO and the processor reached a fair agreement that is at price parity with a contract between the cooperative and another of the three major fried-potato products companies in the state, he said. The field-run price for crop year 2019 is up 3% from a year ago.

Negotiations with the other fry processors are expected to produce similar results — but if they don’t, HB 121 “will be resurrected with stiffer language and penalties,” Stadick said.

As first proposed, “we believe it did have an impact,” he said.

The House Agricultural Affairs Committee endorsed the legislation, which the full House subsequently read two out of the required three times before it was withdrawn based on the proposed settlement SIPCO reached with the processor.

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