Potato Farming in Washington Involves High-stakes Investment
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Most folks think of Idaho when they think of potatoes, but farmers in Washington state's Columbia Basin are making their own mark on the nation's potato industry.
Chris Voigt is the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission. He told The Spokesman-Review that though the state only has 250 potato growers, the crop is worth $7.4 billion to the state's economy each year.
But it's a competitive market with low profit margins, and as a result nearly all of the state's potato farms are large, high-tech operations rather than small mom-and-pop farms.
Voigt says that on a good year, potato farmers might make a 4 percent return on their investment. That means to make a living, they've had to grow bigger.