Aug 17, 2020Potato health benefits emphasized to dietary guideline makers
On Aug. 11, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles testified before the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) during the final public meeting as the Agencies draft the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
Supporting the Committee’s recommendations to increase vegetable consumption, Quarles took the opportunity emphasize that potatoes in all forms are a vegetable that provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates, and their consumption should be encouraged across all life stages.
In a subsequent letter signed by NPC and the state potato organizations, NPC further called on the DGAC to recognize the deficiencies in the 2020 DGAC Scientific Report, in which all vegetables were not placed on equal footing within dietary pattern recommendations. Specifically, arbitrary categorizations such as a “starchy vegetable” have been used to disparage the consumption of white potatoes.
“While we appreciate the need to recommend a variety of vegetables the vegetable categories within the DGA recommendations are generally confusing and difficult to follow,” wrote the NPC. “We understand that the vegetables were subcategorized based loosely upon the groups’ nutrient makeup. However, the way these groupings have been utilized within federal nutrition policy is a cause for concern.”
NPC has played an active role in nutrition policy for many years, most recently correcting various policy decisions under the Obama Administration that disregarded nutrition science in the pursuit of excluding white potatoes from several federal feeding programs. In order to limit the availability of potatoes in school meals and WIC programs, the administration put white potatoes in an arbitrary and less favorable “starchy vegetable” category, ignoring the vegetable’s nutritional benefits.
It is anticipated that the final DGAs will be published before the end of 2020.
Congress adjourns with no deal on COVID stimulus
The Senate adjourned this week until after Labor Day with no agreement on a new stimulus deal for COVID relief. Partisan infighting stalled talks between the House and Senate and the two sides were hopelessly far apart as negotiations were put on hold.
Tied up in the bickering is a new round of relief for the agriculture industry. The current Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) direct payments have provided uneven relief to agriculture. The specialty crop industry remains one of the smallest overall recipients of funding, despite comprising over 50% of U.S. farm gate value and being hard hit by the effects of the pandemic.
“We continue to urge growers to sign-up with FSA for CFAP. As talks between the Administration and Congress continue, we believe that program improvements are likely coming. NPC and the state organizations continue to push for those necessary changes,” Quarles said.
PILI accepting applications for ’21 program
The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is now accepting applications for the 2021 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI). PILI provides tools to help young growers and industry members develop as leaders and motivate them to commit their time and energy to the betterment of the U.S. potato industry. PILI is an eight-day program that provides an overview of the U.S. potato industry, the challenges and issues beyond the production sector and the roles of the industry’s state and national organizations in maintaining a positive business climate for potato growers.
The 2021 program will take place in California and Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-25, 2021. Please use and distribute the electronic applications below. All applications must be submitted electronically through the Google Form by Friday, Oct. 23. Confirmation of participation will be sent by Nov. 13.
If you have any questions about the application process or program, please contact Hillary Hutchins.
— National Potato Council