Tater detectives are keeping their eyes peeled for outsiders claiming to sell real Idaho potatoes.
The problem is widespread, said Patrick Kole of the Idaho Potato Commission. Cases of potato fraud are reported as close as Washington and as far away as Sydney, Australia.
But the commission is having trouble stopping spud swindles because it can’t get at the records of out-of-state companies for proof, Kole told lawmakers Wednesday. Other states treat the commission’s administrative subpoenas like small potatoes.
What the commission needs is real subpoena power, Kole said. Court-ordered. Cut and starched.
The state Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee was persuaded and voted to introduce legislation giving the commission such power.
“Most states only recognize court-issued subpoenas, said Kole.
Over the years, Idaho has invested $100 million to protect the reputation of its famous potatoes, he said.
By presenting a court-issued subpoena to another state, the commission can be assured that companies suspected of passing off non-Idaho taters as Idaho potatoes will have to appear in court.
From there, said Kole, the commission can prove mislabeling and protect Idaho’s potato interests by hitting the offending companies right between the eyes.
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