Mar 11, 2024
Potato Expo 2025 on the move; NPC applauds proposed appropriations bill

The 2025 Potato Expo will be held Jan. 9-10 at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida.

A recent survey of attendees found that Orlando, which last played host to the expo in 2018, is a top destination for event attendees, according to a news release from the National Potato Council.

The Orlando World Center Marriott features a 105,000-square-foot exhibit hall in addition to 10 restaurants and lounges.

Registration will open this fall.

Legislative updates

The Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill text, released last week, maintains record-level funding for National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Potato Research Special Grants.

The bill, which provides $26.3 billion in discretionary funding across the agencies, also continues language preventing the USDA from limiting potato access to the school breakfast program as well as ARS funding and waiver provisions that make the Specialty Crop Research Initiative more accessible for public institutions.

“This is an outstanding outcome for the potato industry. Thanks to everyone who made these a priority during their Hill visits at the Washington Summit and throughout the year,” Dean Gibson, NPC vice president of legislative affairs, said in a news release.

On March 7, a task force of the House Committee on Agriculture Committee known as the Agricultural Labor Working Group released the final version of a H-2A visa report (.pdf). The report’s recommendations would change fundamental aspects of the program if adopted.

The report recognized producers’ lack of access to an adequate workforce and the downward trend in hiring. Some of the 16-member working group’s unanimous recommendations included flexibility in wage calculation based on the Adverse Effect Wage Rate — a minimum wage calculation for H-2A visa holders — and a federal heat standard.

Members also advocated making the visa, currently available only for temporary and seasonal jobs, available to employers in year-round industries.

“We commend the task force for acknowledging the challenges and high cost incurred by producers in securing a stable workforce,” Bob Mattive, NPC president, said. “We urge the members of the Judiciary Committee to take the bipartisan recommendations and provide all of agriculture with the needed reforms for a responsive guest worker program.”

Dietary debate

In its latest comments (.pdf) to the committee working on recommendations that will form the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, NPC called on the group to consider modeling situations where vegetable recommendations overall are increased.

“The DGA process is a huge issue for the potato industry. We need to be utilizing every tool at our disposal, including through NPC, Potatoes USA and APRE, to ensure a solid outcome for growers,” NPC CEO Kam Quarles said.

NPC also cautioned the committee against recommending consumption decreases to the starchy vegetable subgroup, noting the detrimental effects of lower consumption of potassium and fiber — two nutrients found in potatoes.

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