Jersey new potato producers will soon be deciding whether a growers association should be established. The vote is part of an initiative which followed a survey by the States of Jersey department of agriculture and fisheries. An association could be up and running on a voluntary basis for next season and then, with the agreement of two thirds of producers ­ in proportion to their crop ­ be formalised the following year. There are fears that increased competition and tighter category management by the multiples is already threatening the island's dominant position in spring and summer. Long term, the danger is that the premium prices necessary to cover production costs of the 35,000-42,000 tonnes of the island's unique Royal Kidney variety will be eroded. David Griffis, chief executive of the department, said the association could provide the required unified approach to production, quality assurance and marketing to allow Jersey to remain competitive. He emphasised that a growers association would not enter a sales role, but appoint agents. "This role could be still undertaken by the export packers which have traditionally handled the crop. "Whoever it might be would operate under contract," he said. "Relationships with buyers would not be disturbed." After that stage was completed, Griffis said, the report envisaged other improvements which would address quality control. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}