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Governor’s proposed budget excludes funding for new Idaho seed potato facility

Matt Roth, left, the greenhouse manager for the University of Idaho’s nuclear potato seed program, and the program’s manager, Jenny Durrin, work on mini-tuber production in this file photo. University of Idaho plans to build a new $5.5 million nuclear seed potato facility but Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed 2019 budget does not include $3 million in state funding sought by the university. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget does not include the $3 million in state funds for a new nuclear seed potato facility sought by the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. CALS officials had requested $3 million in state funding to help build a new $5.5 million nuclear seed potato facility, which maintains disease-free germplasm and mini-tubers for seed potato growers and researchers. The rest of the money would come from industry partners. The governor’s budget was released Jan. 8 and UI officials had hoped to see their request recommended in the budget. But Otter did not recommend that legislators meet the request. A new facility would provide the ability needed to significantly ramp up the program’s production capacity as well as improve quality control, said CALS Dean Michael Parrella. The facility produces about 250,000 plantlets a year but “the demand from the growers in Idaho is more than two times that and we really don’t have the capacity right now to do that,” he said. More