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Long Island Farmers Feeling The Pinch Of Nationwide Potato Shortage – CBS New York


JAMESPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Potato production dipped nationwide because of cold, wet weather.

While it remains to be seen if that translates into a shortage of French fries, one thing is clear, potato farmers have it tough – including ones on Long Island.

CBSN New York’s Dave Carlin spoke to local farmers in Jamesport.

We peek at potatoes, from the latest harvest at Long Island’s number one spud farm, John Kujawski and sons in Jamesport.

John Jr. tells CBSN New York his industry is far from golden these days.

MORE: Poor Potato Harvest May Lead To A French Fry Shortage Across The Country, Report Warns

Even though he sells one million bags of these – stretching from Hunts Point in the city “all the way down to Florida,” the farmer said.

His son Chris took CBSN New York to the fields where the number of acres is 200.

The farm often struggles to get the 12 workers needed to gather and bag potatoes because they get lured away by the higher paying landscaping industry.

“Potato farmers are going out left and right why you really can’t afford to do it anymore,” Chris Kujawski said.

Potato farmers tell Dave Carlin one key to their future is getting more automated machinery.

It would mean the job gets done with half as many workers, but modernizations costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Kujawskis could turn to a different product, but that would be tough for a family focused solely on potatoes since the early 1900s.

There could be a bright spot for local potato farmers – if they can be counted on to fill more nationwide demand, because potato production nationwide is down as well.

“The potato crop is down more than six percent and the Canada crop is down even more and we have these great potatoes locally grown so we’re asking the restaurant association the big chain store the Wendy’s or McDonald’s come to Long Island and buy our potatoes,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer visited the farm Saturday promising to help spread the word that your baked, scalloped, and French fried potatoes should come from Long Island.

“Maybe that’ll help,” Chris Kujawski said.

Some farmers remain skeptical, but say if politicians can whip up local potato profits, they certainly dig that.

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