Nov 8, 2021
NPC leaders meet with EPA on pesticide reviews

Members of the National Potato Council’s (NPC) Environmental Committee along with members of the organization’s Grower Pesticide Advisory Panel recently met with staff of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Program (OPP).

Despite being unable to meet in-person with the staff responsible for pesticide registration reviews over the past 18 months, the meeting provided an opportunity to hear about EPA-OPP’s efforts to strengthen the science and reduce risks through mitigation efforts. Additionally, it allowed the industry to provide feedback to the staff on the importance of these tools to safe and economical potato production.

Bob Mattive, NPC’s VP of Environmental Affairs stated: “NPC recognizes the importance of having a strong partnership with the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and sharing with them information on the importance of key pesticides for potato production, and that the use of products varies by region due to pest impacts. We appreciate their staff taking time to meet with us to discuss some of the key products currently under review.”

NPC looks forward to continuing the relationship with OPP in helping them to understand the use patterns of these products. Plans for 2022 include an in-person meeting in March during the 2022 NPC Washington Summit, a one-day field trip outside of D.C. to see the seed treatment process of potato seeds and a tour in the summer of 2022 in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

NPC leaders meet in Washington state

The week of Nov. 1-5, NPC Executive Committee members Jared Balcom and Ted Tschirky joined NPC CEO Kam Quarles as he visited Washington state.

“It was great to host Kam and give him an in-depth look at how we do things here in Washington,” Tschirky said. “NPC and the whole industry accomplished some great things on COVID relief in the past year. One of the biggest was making potato growers eligible for USDA’s CFAP direct payment program that benefitted a huge number of farms. It was good to hear what they’re looking at for 2022.”

In addition to meeting with Jared and Ted, Kam had the opportunity to visit with AgriNorthwest and tour operations at the Stanfield Hutterite Brethren, the Warden Hutterite Brethren, Allied Potato and Balcom & Moe.

“Thanks to Chris and Shelly Olsen and the Washington State Potato Commission for all their work coordinating the tour up north. Many thanks to Mike and Davina Pink for their great hospitality in and around Pasco. It was great to join Jaren Raybould, Steve Streich and Blair Richardson for these several days,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO.

USDA opens SCRI application window

On Nov. 4, USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture issued a request for applications for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). An anticipated $80 million will be available for the program in 2022 and the application deadline is Jan. 21.

According to USDA, the purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that address key challenges of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas:

  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
  • Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
  • New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production efficiency, handling and processing of specialty crops

For more information, visit

WOTUS roundtable takes place with EPA, Army

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army publicly announced a process for stakeholders to submit nomination letters with a slate of participants to potentially be selected as one of ten geographically focused roundtables to provide input on the regional implications of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The intent for each regional roundtable is to engage individuals representing diverse perspectives in meaningful dialogue on the definition of “waters of the United States.”

This week, due to the high interest to these roundtables, the agencies announced they have extended the deadline for nominations to be submitted to Dec. 1, 2021. As a result of the deadline extension, EPA anticipates roundtables will be held in early 2022. Specific dates will be coordinated with selected nominees based on availability.

For more information about the roundtables, visit

OSHA vaccination mandate set for Jan. 4

The Biden Administration’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this week released its long-awaited COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS applies to businesses with at least 100 employees and is expected to cover 84 million people.

The mandate requires businesses to implement vaccine requirements and/or weekly testing and mask wearing options by Jan. 4, 2022. The new guidance requires employers to provide paid time off to workers to get vaccinated and paid leave to employees to recover from any side effects of the vaccine.

In a stakeholder briefing hosted by the White House, OSHA officials stated that temporary or seasonal employees will be counted towards the 100-person threshold. One notable exemption to the mandate is for employees who work exclusively outdoors.

OSHA will have programmed or planned inspections to assess workplace compliance. The standard penalty for a single violation is $13,653 and the number will increase if there are multiple violations in a workplace. Willful violations of any workplace requirements could result in a company fine of $136,532.

For more information visit

— National Potato Council

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


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