OAKLEY, Idaho - A farm in Idaho announced this week it was giving away a massive amount of potatoes for free amid a lack of demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With schools, restaurants and universities closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, much of the food service market has been wiped out along with it. The result has meant farms, such as Cranney Farms in Oakley, Idaho, being left with a bounty of food with nowhere to send it.
Ryan Cranney, CEO of Cranney Farms located about 160 miles southeast of Boise, shared a photo featuring a mountain of potatoes in a post on Facebook.
“FREE POTATOES - We started dumping potatoes today as we have no home for them because of this Covid 19 disaster. The potato supply chain has definitely been turned up side down,” Cranney wrote. “If you would like a few bags come on by. 1300 South 700 West Oakley, Idaho.”
A mound of potatoes being donated to the community are pictured at Cranney Farms in Oakley, Idaho. The crop was given away for free due to a lack of demand amid the coronavirus crisis. (Photo credit: Ryan Cranney)
The farm, which has operated for 113 years according to KTVB-TV, normally sends its potatoes into the food service industry to become french fries.
Cranney added that the farm has had a difficult time getting the potatoes to market.
“All the way from the upscale restaurants to the family sit-downs, diners. Stuff like that,” Cranney told the station. “That’s just taking a total beating. Food service numbers are down, restaurant business down maybe 80 to 85% in some places.”
“It’s something I was going to have to dump or go to cattle feed,” he said.
After the free potato advertisement went up, Cranney said people showed up in droves with “20 to 30 cars there at a time.” He added that many people traveling to the farm weren’t just getting food for themselves, but also for friends and others impacted by the novel coronavirus.
“I just felt it could be something to give a little bit back to the community,” he told KTVB. “I know that people are struggling financially with this shutdown of the economy.”
The coronavirus has impacted farmers throughout the country, including the dairy industry. In Arizona, a lack of sales has left warehouses overflowing, forcing farmers to dump about one million pounds of unused milk every day, according to FOX News.
A little more than 50% of Cranney Farms’ sales come from its potato crop, Cranney told CNN. The farm also grows sugar beats, wheat, barley, mustard seeds, corn and alfalfa and raises cattle, but Cranney said the potato crop and cattle have been impacted the most.