WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 160 potato growers and industry partners from across the country met Feb. 25–28 in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the industry's most pressing federal policy priorities. During the four-day Potato D.C. Fly-In, grassroots activists met with federal regulators at USDA and EPA, and took to Capitol Hill, meeting with 129 U.S. Senate and House offices, including 42 which had not been contacted during previous Fly-Ins.
In addition to breaking previous attendance records, the 2013 meeting boasted the widest geographic range in Fly-In history. Growers from 22 states, including Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas, delivered the industry's message to more offices on Capitol Hill than any prior Fly-In.
The 2013 Fly-In also featured a number of high-level political, policy, and industry speakers, including House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who addressed federal budget challenges and their impact on a new farm bill and other agriculture-related issues.
After two days of policy and political briefings, attendees took to Capitol Hill to lead the industry's advocacy efforts, focusing on four top priorities: preserving funding for specialty crop programs in a new five-year farm bill; reforming the agricultural guest worker program as part of comprehensive immigration reform; gaining Mexico's full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes; and ending the ban on fresh potatoes in the WIC federal supplemental nutrition program.
NPC also hosted the annual Friends of Potato Growers Congressional Potato Luncheon in the House Agriculture Committee hearing room, attended by members of Congress and congressional staff.
For photos of the Fly-In and other industry events, please visit NPC's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nationalpotatocouncil.