RUPERT, Idaho (AP) — A south-central Idaho potato packing and shipping company has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will help the company trace where potatoes are shipped.
The Times-News in a story published Wednesday (http://bit.ly/wmJwo8) reports that Arrowhead Potato Co. received the money through the federal agency's Value-Added Producer Grant.
Being able to trace a product helps officials contain a problem in the event of a health scare.
"This will allow us to continue to sell potatoes to markets that require a higher standard of quality of safety," said Klade Williams, Arrowhead chief financial officer. "It will allow us to continue to be viable."
He said food safety and security has become a growing issue nationally.
"We're trying to stay ahead of the curve," said Williams, who wrote the grant request. "We're being proactive and taking it on ourselves to figure out how to get this orchestrated."
The money will help the company buy software, machinery and labels, as well as pay for worker training. The company has 48 full-time employees.
"It's really expensive for us per unit because we don't produce huge numbers here," said Ron Jones, Arrowhead general manager. "So (the grant) is going to go a long way to help us get up and going on the (traceability) program."
About $40.2 million was distributed through the Value-Added Producer Grants to farmers in 44 states and Puerto Rico last month. Idaho companies received six grants.
"These projects will provide financial returns and help create jobs for agricultural producers, businesses and families across the country," Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a statement.