Worth the Trip

Growers stand up for potatoes on Capitol Hill

Published in the April 2015 Issue Published online: Apr 30, 2015 Steve Holton, Director of Corporate and Public Relations
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On Feb. 23-26, NPC hosted the 2015 Potato D.C. Fly-In, where more than 150 U.S. potato growers and industry partners from across the country came to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the industry’s most pressing federal policy priorities.

Growers blanketed Capitol Hill, meeting with 136 U.S. Senate and House offices representing 22 states. They also met with federal regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During their Hill visits, growers urged Congress to address key industry issues including funding for the Potato Research Special Grant, pollinator health, truck weight reform and voluntary GMO labeling.  

The 2015 Fly-In featured presentations by a number of lawmakers, many of whom were influential in reversing the ban on fresh white potatoes in the WIC program. Fly-In attendees heard from Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Representatives Suzan DelBene (R-Wash.) and Mike Simpson (Idaho), who all applauded the recent WIC victory.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.) joined the group to address GMO labeling, DelBene  briefed the group on immigration reform, and Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) discussed the pollinator health issue. The common theme among members of Congress who were a part of the event was the importance of participants being willing to make the trip and share their story. “We’re here to help and can communicate your concerns much more effectively to our colleagues and regulators if we know what is on your mind,” said King.

Fly-In attendees heard from a number of renowned political strategists and commentators including Jonah Goldberg from the National Review Online, Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call, and Reid Wilson of the Washington Post’s “Read In.” Katty Kay of BBC World News America was also on hand to give participants her views on the current domestic and international climate. Additional speakers included Alexis Taylor with USDA’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Anita Pease from EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, NPC hosted the annual Friends of Potato Growers Congressional Potato Luncheon in the Rayburn House Office Building, where growers and elected officials joined at the lunch line for a hearty helping of potatoes. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) dropped by the luncheon to address the House 2015 legislative agenda, take questions and thank participants for making the trip to share their concerns. 

For photos of the Fly-In and other industry events, please visit NPC’s Facebook page.