Apr 26, 2021
Potato council supports Growing Climate Solutions Act

On Earth Day (April 22), U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which is designed to break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices.

The bill, reintroduced by Senators Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), has broad, bipartisan support from 43 Senators and over 70 agricultural and environmental organizations, including the National Potato Council (NPC).

“As stewards of the land, U.S. potato growers are committed to advancing environmentally sustainable solutions that reduce the industry’s carbon footprint,” wrote NPC President Dominic LaJoie in a press release. “We appreciate this bipartisan effort to recognize and support America’s farmers by developing voluntary, cost-effective and economically sustainable practices through incentives that drive climate solutions.”

According to the sponsors, the bill would establish a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program “through which USDA will be able to provide transparency, legitimacy, and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices. The USDA certification program will ensure that these assistance providers have agriculture and forestry expertise, which is lacking in the current marketplace. As part of the program, USDA will administer a new website, which will serve as a “one-stop shop” of information and resources for producers and foresters who are interested in participating in carbon markets.”

Potato growers pushing sustainability 

Over more than a decade, NPC has worked to highlight forward-thinking environmental practices by U.S. potato growers and seek opportunities to broaden those activities.

“Potato growers have a great story to tell,” said LaJoie, a farmer in Aroostook County, Maine. “We have been leaders in adopting practices that are good for the environment, enhance the prosperity of growers, and support the communities that benefit from the industry. This Earth Day and every day, U.S. potato growers take seriously their responsibility to be good stewards of the land and integral members of communities across the country.”

According to recent grower surveys:

  • All farms were certified for food safety, and more than 97% of farms planted 100% certified seed.
  • In 2018, more than 95% of growers reported using non-chemical practices to manage pests such as pest-resistant varieties, mowing, cultivation or beneficial organisms, up from 87% in 2016.
  • Most growers use Global Positioning Systems, which help optimize potato plant row spacing and positioning within the row, and precisely place inputs based on need at specific locations within potato farms. GPS reduces grower time, equipment operation time, fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The use of irrigation technology continues to improve. The results show that scheduling irrigation based on predictive models to estimate crop need increased 18% from 2016 to 2018. Also, using pressurized irrigation systems that limit water loss versus furrow/flood irrigation has increase 28% since 2016.

Check out more of the industry’s sustainability efforts at nationalpotatocouncil.org/benefits-of-potatoes/sustainability.

Sulfoxaflor registration urged

On April 22, NPC joined several other agricultural organizations in filing an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) position to keep the registration for sulfoxaflor in place while the agency comes into compliance with Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements.

The action is tied to the ongoing litigation over sulfoxaflor, an insecticide that was first registered for use by the EPA in 2013. The current lawsuit, challenging the current 2019 sulfoxaflor registration, argues that EPA violated both FIFRA and the ESA. EPA has asked that the registration be sent back to the agency for review, but several parties oppose that request, including 11 states.

The full brief can be found here.

PILI alumni summit set for mid-July

The Leadership Institute Alumni Summit will virtually bring together graduates of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute to network, refresh skills and learn new techniques to better position themselves for success in the potato industry. The event will take place July 13-15 and feature three 1.5-hour-long sessions taught by leadership development experts Laurie Richards and Eric Herdman.

For more information and to register, visit the Potato LEAF website.

— National Potato Council

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


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