Producers will keep raising and marketing potatoes in Washington. Not that this was in doubt, but the federal marketing order for potatoes has to be reviewed and renewed every six years, and that time had come for the state.
USDA announced recently that potato producers in the state voted to continue their federal marketing order program. The order provides authority for grade, size, quality, maturity and container regulations. The federal order is locally administered by the State of Washington Potato Committee.
The vote for continuing the marketing order was decisive, with 86% of producers voting in the referendum, representing 8% of the volume produced by those voting. The referendum was held June 9-23.
The marketing order requires USDA to conduct a referendum to continue the program every six years. For the program to continue, potato producers in the state had to approve the marketing order by either two-thirds of the producers voting in the referendum, or by those representing at least two-thirds of the volume of potatoes produced by those voting in the referendum. The vote totals far surpassed that requirement.
Not all of the state's producers were eligible for the vote. To participate in the referendum, producers must have produced potatoes in the state from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. According to the release from USDA, the agency would have considered terminating the marketing order if continuance was not favored by the state majorities as well.
More information about the marketing order for Irish potatoes grown in Washington is on the 946 Washington potatoes page on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website.