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A farm in Idaho announced on Tuesday it was donating its massive stockpile of potatoes on a first-come, first-serve basis to whoever decided to show up, amid a lack of demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cranney Farms — located roughly 160 miles southeast of Boise — had a bounty of potatoes that it expected to sell this year, but with a severely impacted supply chain, instead of dumping them, the farm decided to give them away for free through an advertisement on Facebook labeled: “FREE POTATOES.”
“We started dumping potatoes today as we have no home for them because of this Covid 19 disaster,” Ryan Cranney, the farm’s CEO announced on Facebook. “The potato supply chain has definitely been turned up side down. If you would like a few bags come on by.”
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Cranny said the majority of his potatoes end up being made into french fries.
“All the way from the upscale restaurants to the family sit-downs, diners. Stuff like that,” Cranney said, according to Boise’s KTVB. “That’s just taking a total beating. Food service numbers are down, restaurant business down maybe 80 to 85% down in some places.”
But after his advertisement went up, people showed up in droves. He said one person even came from a town roughly 450 miles away, which he said was “quite amusing to me.”
Citizens collect buckets and truck loads of potatoes on April 15, at Ryan Cranney’s farm in Oakley, Idaho. Cranney has made potatoes free to the public after having to dump 500,000 pounds due to a shortage of buyers with the restaurant industry closed. (Pat Sutphin/Times-News via AP)
“There’s been times where there were 20 or 30 cars there at a time it looks like,” Cranney told the station. “I think in the next several hours, most of that will be all gone.”
The farm said it was the first time in its 113 year history that people came to pick up potatoes in mass quantities.
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The virus has impacted all types of farmers throughout the U.S., as some are forced to throw away a large portion of their supply due to a lack of demand from now-shuttered schools, restaurants, and other foodservice providers.
“My farms in Indiana grow forage crops — alfalfa and corn — for a dairy operation,” dairy farmer Damian Mason told Fox News on Thursday. “And, that dairy operator is hurting right now — as are dairy farmers throughout the United States of America.”
With more Idaho residents filing for unemployment in the last four weeks than in all of 2019, according to the Idaho Department of Labor — Cranney decided to give back to others in need.
Ryan Cranney poses for a portrait next to a mound of potatoes he’s made free to the public on April 15 at his farm in Oakley, Idaho. (Pat Sutphin/Times-News via AP)
“I just felt like it could be something to maybe give back to the community,” Cranney told the station. “I know people are struggling financially with the shutdown of the economy.”
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He added that a lot of the people traveling to his farm weren’t just grabbing potatoes for themselves, but for friends, neighbors, and others impacted by the virus.
Fox News’ Julia Musto and the Associated Press contributed to this report