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Monte Vista, CO — Sales for McCormick & Milne going into 2013 were described as good overall by John McCormick, company principal, who said that while the 2012 crop came in short, sales were “holding steady.”

He said, “We’re down a little, but things are moving well. Our process side is good, and all our contracts are in place.”

mccormick-and-milne-slv-winDon’t let the bright sunshine fool you. When this photo was snapped at 11 a.m., the outdoor temperature in Monte Vista, CO, was a numbing minus 17 F. Braving the elements to stand under ‘the old tree’ are Scott Marquez, John McCormick, Tom Milne, Ronnie Wert and Jim Whitney.The broker/distributor, which formed in 2004 when Tom Milne, then a sales agent for the former Asbell & McCormick brokerage, came aboard as a managing partner with Mr. McCormick, sees approximately 20 percent of its volume go to canners and salad makers. Fresh market spuds go the South and Southeast.

Lack of water is the main factor in fewer potatoes from the area this season, and Mr. McCormick said the situation looks equally bad for the coming year.

“Volume is down for us specifically, and I think volume is likely down for everyone in the valley,” Mr. McCormick said. “That is probably a sign of acreage reduction in 2013.”

He added, “The crop was good, even if it was a little short. And our varieties haven’t changed — although hopefully someday we’ll come up with a variety that doesn’t use any water at all,” he joked.

“Seriously, we have real concerns about water, but we feel the water subdistrict is headed in the right direction. Meters did raise the cost of production, though. It was about $75 an acre higher last year than in previous years.”

The longtime Colorado potato man said costs will continue to rise as fuel prices escalate, and Scott Marquez, transportation manager, said transportation will tighten as well.

“There are fewer independent truckers because there have been so many new regulations imposed, and there are more to come,” Mr. Marquez said.

Still, the crew at M&M remains upbeat and Mr. McCormick said as he remains optimistic the coming season will be a good one.