Farmers split over diversion plan

Island farmers seem divided over a deal that pays them to dump 10% of their potatoes. Three hundred million pounds will be spread on Island fields to rot. Farmers will be paid five cents a pound.

It's an effort to ease a potato glut on the world market, and help farmers affected by the potato wart dispute with the U.S.

"That's not acceptable, [it's] totally inadequate," says potato producer Danny Hendriken. "That's just going to cover 10% of our losses here."

Boyd Rose, another potato farmer, agrees with Hendriken. "We still have to get the American border opened to make any big difference."

Every Island farmer is eligible for the diversion program, even if they haven't been affected by the potato wart trade crisis. And that's where a rift between the potato producers may develop.

Danny Hendriken believes only those with contracts to sell to the Americans should be part of the program. "Anybody with a contract with a processor such as McCains or Irving, that were shipping on an ongoing basis that weren't affected, shouldn't be deemed eligible," he says.

However, Rose says: "I doubt if I could come up with a better way. In my mind this is the only way they could do it and be half fair."

Hendriken and Rose do agree on a different point. Both say there are so many potatoes on the market that diverting just 10% of the Island's crop won't diminish the glut or improve the price.