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USA - Potato prices increasing due to $10 million loss of crops in Skagit Valley

Prices of many potatoes are going up at the grocery store. That’s due largely to up to $10 million in recent losses of potato crops in the Skagit Valley.

It’s all about supply and demand. This shortage of crops has increased the prices of these potatoes for people at the grocery store. This is all according to agricultural expert Don McMoran at WSU.

Jerry Nelson has farmed in the Skagit Valley for more than 50 years. Growing red, yellow, white and purple potatoes is his passion.

“This is probably for me, maybe because of my age, one of the most stressful years – the most stressful one I’ve ever had,” Nelson said.

Nelson guesses that he lost up to 12 percent of his potatoes this year due to the relentless rains early in the fall.

“This is about as hard on me as I’ve ever gone through in the fall,” Nelson said.

Across the Skagit Valley, experts said farmers were unable to harvest an estimated three square miles of potatoes; those losses are valued between $5-10 million. McMoran said it is normal for farmers to not harvest some land every year, but a loss of this size is rare.

Meanwhile, Nelson wouldn’t be surprised if that number was 15 million or higher.

“You can’t help but go through your mind, ‘do I replant again next year?'” Nelson said.

Potatoes typically bring in roughly $60 million to Skagit County growers every year. This industry provides a lot of jobs in the area.

“Our season is going to be shorter and so it’s going to affect the labor force,” Nelson said.

These losses to local potato crops may hit other businesses, too. We talked to the owner of the Trumpeter Public House restaurant in Mt. Vernon — he said he may need to get his potatoes elsewhere for now — until the next crop is harvested.

“They’re some of the best in the world,” said restaurant owner Paul Springer. “I don’t think, we can source from other areas, but the quality just isn’t as good as what comes out of the Skagit Valley.”

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