Potato prices are in the cellar, and Idaho’s congressional delegation wants the federal government to do something about it.

Idaho delegation seeks USDA help on spud prices

Idaho’s two U.S. senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, and its two members of the House of Representatives, Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson, have sent a letter encouraging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy surplus potatoes for federal nutrition programs.

Addressed to the administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the letter asks that spuds be purchased under the government’s Section 32 program.

“The growing conditions for the 2009 Idaho potato crop were almost perfect, resulting in record yields and excellent quality,” the letter reads. “Therefore, the percentage of saleable potatoes is above average this year, and currently Idaho potato stocks on hand are nearly 13.5% more than last year’s stocks.”

As a result, even though movement is up 4.5% over last year, the legislators write,  prices are perilously low.

“Without action,” they write, “the combination of a high supply and low prices will drive many growers in the State of Idaho and throughout the country to go out of business.”