Negative effects of COVID on Washington potato industry estimated at $1 billion

A study conducted by the IMPACT Center of the School of Economic Sciences seems to indicate that the COVID pandemic has negatively affected the Washington potato industry by approximately $1 billion.

The vast majority (some 90%) of Washington potatoes go to frozen processors. The study addresses this and also discusses the potential tax impacts on the state and the primary backward links in the supply chain that are negatively affected by the reduction in potato production and processing. quoted Matt Harris, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Washington State Potato Commission, as saying: “We found this report to be very beneficial to quantify the economic damage from COVID-19 to the state’s potato economy. It provides key statistics that show just how important potatoes are to our state’s economy and that the value they bring goes far beyond each individual farm.”

Washington’s potato growers and processors have been adversely affected by the prolonged restaurant closures and the associated drop in demand. This drop has been a shock not only directly for growers and processors but for all the vendors in their specialized supply chains. Potato production in Washington is expected to be down about 15% from 2019.

In all, farmers have lost roughly $29.2 million dollars from the decline in demand and quality for their 2019 harvest. They have reduced potato acreage for their 2020 growing season by 13%. That loss in acreage amounts to roughly 729,120 tons of potatoes.

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