Jul 21, 2021
Democrats could attach immigration reform to budget bill

On July 13, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Budget Committee Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), announced they had reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The Democrat-only plan would be included in a soon-to-be debated budget resolution. The deal is separate from the bipartisan bill on traditional roads and bridges, and it is expected to cover reforms, such as expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing, addressing climate change, and making changes to the U.S. tax code.

According to news reports, Democratic negotiators have floated a proposal that would set aside $120 billion in the budget bill for programs that would provide a pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, agricultural workers, other essential workers, and people with Temporary Protected Status.

The effort to include the immigration overhaul in the budget bill comes after months of negotiations with Senate Republicans that have yet to gain traction.

“This announcement clearly places more pressure on the bipartisan negotiations in the Senate to build upon the House’s version of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. If the partisan reconciliation process legalizes the current agricultural workforce without the necessary improvements to a guest worker program and the essential security pieces, the future is going to look a lot worse than the current chaotic system,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO.

“It’s very, very difficult to get Republicans right now. Even those who were around showing leadership in 2013 are very hesitant to step up,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) told reporters. “Unfortunately, in the world we are in, with Senator McConnell trying to slow down and stop everything, this is our best option.”

As for the farm bill conservation programs included in the spending bill, Sen. Stabenow remains “very optimistic” that they will be approved. She has been seeking $50 billion in new conservation funding to promote climate-friendly farming practices.

House to take up appropriations bill

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) circulated a dear colleague letter this week outlining the floor schedule, including the appropriations bills, for the week of July 26. In his letter, Rep. Hoyer wrote the House will turn its attention to FY22 appropriations bills, “recognizing the importance of completing our work well in advance of the deadline at the end of September.” He expects the House to consider a minibus appropriations bill that will contain the FY22 Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA appropriations bill.

The House bill contains essential funding for the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture potato breeding research program, as well as blocking restrictions on potatoes’ participation in the school breakfast program and other industry-supported measures.

Leadership institute alumni summit

Growers from across the country came together virtually this week for the first annual Potato LEAF Leadership Institute Alumni Summit. With 53 alumni joining the summit, the new experience set out to help expand on their learning and cultivate stronger leadership skills that can be taken to the workplace and better those teams working in our industry.

“This week’s event was the kickoff to a new phase of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. This Alumni program seeks to ensure the vital relationships and knowledge for each Leadership Institute class are built upon throughout participants’ careers,” said Mike Wenkel, National Potato Council COO.

Guest speakers, Laurie Richards and Eric Herdman, hosted three sessions focusing in different areas of team development and success. After attending these 90-minute workshops, participants were able to refine their leadership skills and their approach to conflict, as well as develop toolkits to help boost their team’s morale.

Learn more about the Leadership Institute Alumni Summit here.

NPC Summer meetings coming up

This has been quite a year for the industry and the association that serves U.S. potato growers and its industry partners. Since the start of the pandemic, NPC has worked to stabilize the industry by helping deliver $350 million in federal support, while at the same time securing the future of NPC by minimizing its financial exposure.

Join NPC on July 26-28 for our 2021 Summer Meeting VIRTUAL for updates and discussion on the industry’s pandemic response as well as pressing trade, environmental, labor, and other policy priorities.

Schedule of Events

Monday, July 26

  • 11:00am-12:00pm ET – Finance Committee Meeting
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm ET – Long Range Planning Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 27

  • 11:00am-12:00pm ET – Legislative Affairs Committee Meeting
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm ET – Grower Outreach and Industry Research Committee Meeting

Wednesday, July 28

  • 11:00 am-12:00pm ET – Environmental Affairs Committee Meeting
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm ET – Trade Affairs Committee Meeting
  • 5:00pm-5:30pm ET – NPC Board of Directors Meeting

The Summer Meeting is a free event for all members of the potato industry but you must register to participate.

Check out the latest episode of “The Potato Field” podcast to hear NPC CEO Kam Quarles preview the meetings and offer updates on other issues facing the U.S. potato industry.

— National Potato Council

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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