12/07/2019 | Press release | Archived content
Suffolk County Is Third Biggest Potato Producing County In All Of NY& Can Help Meet Nation's New Demand Now & When Planting Begins In Spring, Boosting Farm Life & Jobs Locally
National Potato Shortage, Predicted To Be Toughest In Years, Could Be Alleviated With New Suppliers Stepping In; Potatoes Are An Important Table Staple
Schumer: New York Farmers, Like On LI, Would Not Hesi-'Tate' To Help Combat Potato Shortage, Which Boosts LI
Standing at Long Island's biggest potato farm, surrounded by 300 acres of potato fields and with family farmers who know a thing or two about how to grow this crop, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer provided an update on the national potato shortage now hitting tip-of-the-tongue potato states like Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, and even abroad in Canada. Schumer said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is forecasting a domestic potato production drop that will be the lowest since 2010. Schumer said, amid this national shortage, that the nation's potato procurers should look closer at New York, specifically, Long Island, to help ease the shortage. Schumer made a pitch for the National Restaurant Association to alert all of their members across all fifty states-from mom-and-pop shops to big chains-to look at Long Island and its crop for doing business, saying New York has not suffered the same kind of crop wipe-out and Long Island farms have extra potatoes right now.
'Bad weather out west means that some potato farmers may not be able to fulfill their contracts with big restaurants and grocers, but the thing is, the potato crop across New York State, like on Long Island, is more ample and has not suffered the same plight,' said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. 'Today, we are telling the country's best restaurant information hub-the National Restaurant Association-to help us get the word out about New York's potato. Because while there may be a shortage in the tip-of-the-tongue states that harvest the potato, on Long Island there isn't. So, if you're a large chain worried about this shortage, New York and Long Island can help ease the uncertainty.'
Schumer, who was joined by experts from Cornell Cooperative Extension, the LI Farm Bureau and other officials, also explained the health benefits of the potato and urged the USDA to keep a handle on the situation for the suitability of nutrition, as well as the family farm.
Unusually cold weather from September to November in U.S. growing regions such as Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, and Minnesota, in addition to areas in Canada, has stunted the growth of potatoes, making them unsuitable for food products, and destroyed crop yields because frozen potatoes were left underground to avoid the cost of digging them up. In a November report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicated that domestic production for the 2019 crop year will drop 6.1%, resulting in the lowest production since 2010. Schumer explained how even a shortage of less than 6% could unsettle the pace of the potato supply. Specifically, the output in Idaho, the main producer of potatoes, is expected to fall 5.5%. Additionally, the United Potato Growers of Canada estimated that about 12,000 acres in Manitoba were left unharvested, and 6.5% of Alberta, Canada's potatoes are estimated to be frost-damaged.
Amidst this national potato shortage, Schumer said potato procurers should look to New York, and specifically Long Island, when fulfilling their potato needs to meet consumer demands. He explained that farmland is nearly 23% of New York's total land area and he pointed to a 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture report that ranked New York State 11th in potato production. And Schumer touted that, Long Island, specifically Suffolk County, is the number three county in New York for producing a potato crop. According to the USDA's 2017 Census of Agriculture, 15,315 acres across 953 farms in New York State were harvested for potatoes. Additionally, the market value of Suffolk County's potatoes, vegetables and melons were valued at $28.7 million.
'The potato and Long Island have a long and storied past,' added Schumer. 'For a long time, it was the potato, and farming, that fueled this county's economy, and in a way it very much still does. So, we are telling the country, today: look to Long Island amid this shortage and look to New York, because we are open for business.'
Potatoes are an important staple food in many countries around the world, including in the United States, and have numerous nutritional properties that positively impact bone health, blood pressure, heart health, inflammation, digestion, and so much more. For example, potatoes contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and zinc that help the body build and maintain bone structure and strength. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all found in potatoes, are also known to decrease blood pressure. Additionally, the potato's fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content all support heart health. Specifically, the significant amount of fiber in potatoes helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, decreasing the risk of heart disease. In short, potatoes, the biggest vegetable crop in the United States, contain important nutrients-fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals-that can benefit human health in various ways, some of which are listed above.