The Idaho House Agricultural Affairs Committee on Feb. 26 endorsed legislation that would formalize the process grower associations have used for 50-plus years in negotiating annual contracts with processors of fried potato products.
Supporters said House Bill 121 would help keep processors from negotiating directly with individual members of grower associations, as they contend a processor did last spring, striking unfair deals that ultimately impact market-wide pricing.
Opponents said the processor did nothing illegal or in bad faith, and that the legislation is not needed since the longstanding voluntary negotiations between associations and processors work well overall while preserving free-market opportunities. Moreover, HB 121 is vague and does not impose non-compliance penalties, they said.
The bill establishes an Oct. 31-March 15 negotiating period for grower associations and processors. Negotiations between processors and individual grower members of the association would not be allowed until after the period passes with no agreement in hand. Associations must be nonprofit cooperatives with at least 40 member growers.