Dutch potato growers and potato processing firms will start talks on Friday to determine who is to pay for the problems with this year’s harvest, broadcaster NOS said.
Some 80% of the Dutch potato crop is sold under contract to potato processors such as the French fries industry for around nine cents a kilo.
The price of potatoes which are not sold in advance varies considerably from year to year. Last year they sold for around three cents a kilo because there was a surplus, meaning that the processors overpaid for their produce.
But this year, potatoes sold on the free market are reaching 30 cents a kilo and the price is expected to rise still further. Farmers now say the processors are getting too good a deal and want them to help pay for extra watering.
But the processors say that farmers are contracted to provide a good crop and should water their potatoes if necessary. ‘Farmers have to take care of the land under contract like a good father,’ Hylke Brunt, from the processing industry lobby group, told NOS. ‘And that means watering them.’
Another problem this year is the length of the potatoes. ‘We make deals about the quality in the contracts and the length is important,’ Jaap van Wenum, of the farming organisation LTO said.
‘Processors want potatoes that are at least 40 millimetres in diameter but farmers won’t make that this year.’
The actual damage for farmers will not become clear until mid September when the main harvest takes place.