Nov 7, 2023
NPC advocates for more agricultural workers, renewed farm bill action

Mike Wenkel, National Potato Council chief operating officer, met last week with government organizations at the White House to address increasing the availability of agricultural workers.

Meetings were held with staff from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the White House, according to a news release.

“There seems to be a sincere interest on the part of the administration to find alternative avenues to address the worker shortage in agriculture for both full-time and seasonal worker needs,” Wenkel said in the release.

NPC advocates of the creation of a new guestworker program with the flexibility to meet current and future demands of the potato industry and other specialty crop producers, according to the release.

Wenkel also joined other members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance to brief legislative staffers on the organization’s priorities, including increased funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and Specialty Crop Block Grants.

Farm bill optimism

NPC CEO Kam Quarles, co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, joined coalition partners in a meeting with Rep. G.T. Thompson, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, to urge continued action on the now-expired farm bill.

Thompson discussed the commitment of the new House Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson, to a bipartisan bill that can be passed by the end of the calendar year, according to the release.

“U.S. potato growers appreciate Chairman Thompson’s time and willingness to advance priorities that will grow our $100 billion industry,” Quarles said. “Authorized every five years, the farm bill is our chance to ensure that vital research, trade and promotion priorities retain the long-term funding necessary to provide certainty and stability to our businesses.”

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