You say co-op, they say cartel

A set of lawsuits combines a couple phrases you might not expect to find together: ‘massive international cartel’ and ‘potato.’

NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORKDecember 17, 2013 

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Potatoes are America’s most popular vegetable, and Idaho is America’s top potato-producing state, with 30 percent of the nation’s supply.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

A set of lawsuits combines a couple of phrases you might not expect to find together: “massive international cartel” and “potato.”

According to a group of grocers, the innocuous looking potato on your plate got there through a conspiracy involving price-fixing, coercion and aerial surveillance. Potato growers counter there is no cartel — just a co-op.

In 2004, in an office in Blackfoot, Idaho, 23 potato growers got together to see what they could do about the sorry state of potato prices. That, at least, is how a class-action lawsuit describes the genesis of a group that would become the powerful United Potato Growers of America. The lawsuit is winding its way through federal court in Idaho.

Read the complete story at Boise State Public Radio.

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