Standing Up for Potatoes on Capitol Hill

March 2, 2022

This week potato growers are in Washington, DC for the National Potato Council Washington Summit. And for growers like the National Potato Council’s newly elected president Jared Balcom from Pasco, Wash. promoting free and fair-trade agreements is very important.

“Currently, our key issues are continuing to work on the Mexico fresh access for both fresh potatoes and chip stock,” said Balcom. “We are engaged with APHIS and USDA on trying to continue to move that forward. We've run into some stumbling blocks, but we're going to continue to try to work through those.”

He says creating more opportunities for trade in the Pacific Rim is also a priority.

“We're continuing to encourage the Biden administration to work with our Asian counterparts and reduce restrictions,” said Balcom. “There’s a strong desire to re-engage in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to be a part of that important Asian Pacific trade deal. Trade isn’t a high priority of the current administration.  So, we just continue to bring it up and try to encourage them to engage in the conversations.”

Seed potato growers like Dan Lake from Ronan, Mont. have traveled to our nation's capital because he believes it's important for elected and appointed officials to hear directly from their constituents on issues that impact agriculture and rural communities.

“Members of Congress really appreciate this kind of grassroots effort and our information and experiences,” said Lake. “They have the 30,000-foot issues and we're down here on the ground. For them to have that feedback is really important to them. We'll carry the national potato issues to them. But we'll also bring in some of our local issues while we've got a chance to visit with them.”

During the 2022 National Potato Council Washington Summit, attendees are also advocating for issues such as keeping potatoes in federal nutrition programs and protecting tax policies that support the long-term health of family-owned farming operations.

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Source: Montana Ag Network/Western Ag Network