The lockdown caused by the coronavirus has resulted in a disruption of livelihoods of people in various sectors in a big way. Ryan Cranney, the CEO of Cranney Farms in Oakley, Idaho, is a potato farmer who’s been left with a mountain of potatoes after restaurants who used to turn it into french fries, have been shut by the government order.
“All the way from the upscale restaurants to the family sit-downs, diners. Stuff like that,” Cranney said. “That’s just taking a total beating. Foodservice numbers are down, restaurant business may be as much as 80, 85 percent in some places.”
“I didn’t really have a market for those potatoes, it’s something I would have had to dump or go to cattle feed.”
So Cranney decided to do something about it instead of letting it rot, he shared on the unofficial Cranney Farms Facebook page on April 14 a unique, limited-time offer. “FREE POTATOES,” the post read. “We started dumping potatoes today as we have no home for them because of this Covid 19 disaster. The potato supply chain has definitely been turned upside down. If you would like a few bags come on by.”
The post showed a pile of millions of potatoes. “About 6000 bags, 100-pound bags,” Cranney clarified. “I mean there were several million individual potatoes.”
He added, “I just felt like it could be something to maybe give back to the community. I know people are struggling financially with the shutdown of the economy.”
People started to respond and came from near and far to pick-up some. “There’s been times where there were 20 or 30 cars there at a time,” the farmer said. “I think in the next several hours, most of that’s going to be all gone.”
The act of kindness has had a ripple effect, with many of the people who responded to the offer delivering some of their bounty to others who could use them.
“A lot of the people there were not necessarily gathering potatoes for themselves, but they were gathering them for somebody else and going and delivering those, whether it was to friends, or neighbors, or family members, somebody they know that’s struggling,” Cranney explained.
Cartloads of the potatoes were taken off-site to give to more people who could enjoy them. Cranney Farms Facebook page from Thursday said that several groups came together to provide an additional pick-up point in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Cranney is unsure about the future, he says that the financial hit on farmers is “going to be painful for a lot of people.”
“We’ve decided to cut back the number of acres of potatoes that we are planting for the 2020 year,” he said. “I think the only thing worse than not planting them, is to plant them and not having a market for it.”
Let us pray for farmers like Cranney who are facing disastrous times like these due to COVID-19, that God would intervene and stop this pandemic and that people and businesses would be able to function again.