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National Potato Council: New Opportunities to Advance Policy Goals

Earlier this year, America’s potato growers placed their trust in me to lead the National Potato Council as its president throughout 2013. It is a responsibility I take seriously; overseeing an organization that impacts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of growers and their families is a humbling experience. I hope the decisions made by me, the executive committee, and our board of directors made up of growers from across the country will keep us on a track that supports a stronger industry for decades to come.

Thankfully, we have a firm foundation from which to build. Over the last few years, NPC and our partners from the state potato organizations have helped bring about a number of federal policy victories and set the stage for others in the future. Those victories did not happen overnight but were the result of years of hard work done by everyone in the industry.

Looking ahead, NPC has put together a set of policy goals that will help direct our efforts throughout 2013.
The first policy-related goal is to keep NPC focused on its core mission: promoting federal laws and regulations that improve the profitability of potato growers in the short and long term.

NPC cannot be all things for all people, and since we do not have a limitless budget, we must prioritize our efforts to fight for the things that will make the biggest impact for the industry. Falling under this policy agenda is our commitment to retain specialty crop research, pest and disease, and marketing funding in a new long-term farm bill, to replace the temporary extension expiring in September 2013. We will also support efforts to enact meaningful guest worker reform to ensure adequate labor for our farms. Finally, building off our success to bring common sense to USDA’s school meal rules, we will continue to encourage the inclusion of nutritious potatoes in all federal feeding programs, including the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program, which currently prohibits its participants from purchasing fresh white potatoes with program vouchers.

Our second goal is to enhance NPC’s relationships with federal agencies and regulators.

We have received positive feedback from our agency meetings during the Potato D.C. Fly-In, during which we candidly discuss our opportunities and challenges with high-level agency and administration officials. In 2013, NPC will extend our outreach to the EPA by expanding the EPA Summer Tour, which invites agency staffers to leave their desks and join us on an up-close tour of a growing area. By doing so, they get a better understanding of how environmental regulations being considered by the agency can impact the ability of growers to operate.

The final policy goal recognizes that the current focus on sustainability on the farm and in the value chain is not going away. As such, NPC realizes we must do our part to make sure the industry is moving forward with one unified position.
 

By focusing on these goals, I believe we can ensure that 2013 will be another big year for NPC and the industry. It is an honor to serve the growers who drive NPC’s agenda and support it through their contributions, and I look forward to working with the executive committee, board of directors, and growers across the country on meeting the challenges ahead.

By NPC President Randy Mullen

Originally posted Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013

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