Accounting for the rising popularity of fingerling potatoes and other niche varieties, size requirements for Idaho potato varieties would change under a proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The proposal acts on a recommendation from the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Potato Committee to revise the variety classifications that determine the size requirements for potatoes grown in certain counties of Idaho and Oregon’s Malheur County, according to a Federal Register notice.
The proposal would also apply to all imported long type potatoes, according to the release.
Comments on the proposal are due by July 9.
The Idaho-Eastern Oregon Potato Committee in November unanimously recommended revising regulations that determine the size requirements for U.S. No. 2 grade potatoes.
Currently, the order’s handling regulations have two size requirements for U.S. No. 2 grade potatoes, one applicable to designated “round varieties” and the other to “all other varieties.”
The proposed rule would remove the designation “round varieties” in the regulations to make the size requirements to make the language applicable to all U.S. No. 2 grade potatoes.
In addition, the proposed rule would change the designation for “all other varieties” to “russet types,” maintaining the larger size requirements for “russet types” only.
Committee members reported that the Idaho-Eastern Oregon potato industry has been producing and shipping an increasing number of non-traditional potato varieties, such as oblong, fingerling, and banana potatoes, according to the proposal.
“The current size requirements contained in the handling regulations do not adequately differentiate between the various types of potatoes to effectively regulate the unique varieties that are now being marketed from the production area,” the proposal said.
Orderly marketing could be hurt by requiring those specialty varieties to adhere to size requirements that were never intended to be applied to that type or variety, the proposal said.
“Designating potatoes as ‘round varieties’ and ‘all other varieties’ was appropriate when the regulations were initially established but potatoes from the production area are now segmented into two different market sectors, russet type potatoes and all other non-russet varieties,” the proposal said.