From Feb. 23 to 26, the National Potato Council hosted the 2015 Potato D.C. Fly-In. 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 legislators and legislative aides, representing 22 states and met with federal regulators at the USDA and the EPA.
During their visits, growers urged their Senators and congressional representatives 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 who were influential in reversing the ban on fresh white potatoes in the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program. Fly-In attendees heard from Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine; Steve Daines, R-Montana; Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington; and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who all celebrated the recent WIC victory.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, spoke about GMO labeling, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington, briefed the group on immigration reform and Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia, discussed the pollinator health issue.
The common message among members of Congress who spoke at the event was the importance of participants 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,” Sen. King said.
Fly-In attendees heard from a number of renowned political strategists and commentators, including Jonah Goldberg from National Review Online, Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call and Reid Wilson of the Washington Post’s Read In.
Keynote speaker Katty Kay of the BBC World News America spoke about the current domestic and international political issues.
Additional speakers included Alexis Taylor with the USDA’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Anita Pease from the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.
On Wednesday, NPC hosted the annual Friends of Potato Growers Congressional Potato Luncheon in the Rayburn House Office Building.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, dropped by the luncheon to address the House 2015 legislative agenda, take questions and thank participants for making the trip to share their concerns.
Visit the NPC’s Facebook page for photos from the Fly-In and other industry events.