April 29, 2022
In This Issue:
  • Secretary Vilsack Cites Mexico Potato Progress in Budget Hearing
  • Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Moving Forward as Congress Begins Process
  • New Podcast: Taking Stock of the 2022 Leadership Institute
  • Room Block Open for NPC’s 2022 Summer Meeting
  • Introducing Ameerah Palacios: Your Coach for the PILI Alumni Summit!
  • SNAP a Focus of House Farm Bill Hearing
  • USDA Seeking to Improve Efficiency of SNAP Program
Secretary Vilsack Cites Mexico Potato Progress in Budget Hearing

During yesterday’s FY23 budget hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack cited the recent progress with the decades-long Mexico access dispute as an example of how the Biden Administration is working to expand market opportunities for U.S. agricultural products.

During the hearing, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) asked how USDA’s FY23 budget request would support the U.S. ag supply chain, particularly in regards to “our reliance on Chinese exports.”

Secretary Vilsack answered:

Well, I would say that the concern that we have about Chinese exports, Congressman, is the need for us to continue to look for ways in which we can diversify so that we're not as overly reliant on a single market. We know what happened when that market was disrupted during the trade war. We saw the devastation to producers.
And so, we're continually looking for ways in which we can expand new market opportunities. The Indo-Pacific framework that was announced by the USTR is one way of focusing on ways in which we can knock down barriers. Recently, additional beef sales in Japan, additional corn sales, frozen pork sales in Vietnam, potatoes in Mexico, we're breaking down barriers so that we can expand access to additional markets.
I think there are opportunities in Southeast Asia. I think there are opportunities in Africa. So, the budget, basically, provides us the opportunity to continue to look for ways in which we can expand presence. At the end of the day, expanding market opportunity is about presence. It's about having people in place, which we have.
It's about the resources that MAP and FMD provide that -- to, basically, have promotions and -- and the opportunity for us to do additional trade mission. So, you're going to see a very aggressive effort in trade missions this year. We had one in the Middle East. We've got one scheduled in Spain. We've got one scheduled in Kenya.
We've got one scheduled in the Philippines. So, there's going to be a continued focus effort on increasing and expanding our presence in these foreign markets so that we diversify, and we're not as reliant on China as we have been in the past.

“Clearly this is an issue that the Administration is devoting a lot of energy to resolving. We appreciate their continued commitment and will need it in well into the future in order to maintain access to the highly disputed Mexican market,” said Jared Balcom, NPC 2022 President and potato grower from Washington state.
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Moving Forward as Congress Begins Process

The U.S. fruit and vegetable industry is working together to develop recommendations for a new Farm Bill under the umbrella of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA). NPC CEO Kam Quarles is one of the three co-chairs of the SCFBA that has generated billions of dollars in new funding for the industry since its inception nearly 20 years ago.

“The Alliance has provided our diverse industry with discipline and focus as we work to advise Congress and the Administration on policy that matters for growers. Prior to its creation, specialty crops were a bit player in this massive bill. Our challenge this time will be dealing with a tight federal budget and keeping the overall industry united. Potatoes reach into a number of states that aren’t traditionally specialty crop powerhouses, so our presence adds great value to the Alliance,” said Quarles.

An Alliance steering committee meeting is scheduled for May 12 in Washington, D.C. This follows their initial kickoff meeting in Anaheim during the Potato Expo in January and a number of working group meetings throughout April and likely into May. The intention is to complete the SCFBA recommendations by mid-summer to be ready for a full Farm Bill debate that will likely last well into 2023.
New Podcast: Taking Stock of the 2022 Leadership Institute

Each year, the Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) brings together outstanding potato growers and industry representatives for eight days of training and professional development, starting in a potato growing region and concluding in Washington, D.C. when the class links up with participants of the NPC Washington Summit.

During the 2022 Washington Summit, Eye On Potatoes hosted a live podcast recording with PILI alumnus and 2022 Grower-leader Doug Posthuma from Wisconsin, 2022 PILI attendee Bevan Lenz from Colorado, and Potato LEAF Vice President Mike Wenkel to talk about their personal leadership growth and value the program delivers to the industry.

Download and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Eye on Potatoes Podcast is made possible by our presenting sponsor, Syngenta. Delivering solutions to help producers face the potato industry’s complex challenges, Syngenta provides growers with unmatched field expertise along with an array of effective products. Explore syngenta-us.com/spud-doctor to discover solutions for your potato growing obstacles.
Room Block Open for NPC’s 2022 Summer Meeting

Downtown Nashville is the hub of the entertainment and nightlife that defines Music City. For the NPC Summer Meeting, June 16-17, we are pleased to partner with the Renaissance Nashville Hotel, which is surrounded by world-class cuisine, live music, and nightlife that has made Nashville a premier destination for visitors.

A room block has been reserved for our group at special rates and expires on Friday, May 20..Make your reservations today!
Introducing Ameerah Palacios: Your Coach for the PILI Alumni Summit!

As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Ameerah Palacios is joining us in Nashville to help potato industry leaders find the confidence to lead with their strengths and coaching them to their best!

During our first-ever in-person PILI Alumni Summit, Ameerah will leading the group though sessions on:
  • Communicating Your Skills/Brand
  • Cultivating and Maximizing Team Success
  • Walking the Walk/Putting Your Learning to Work

Ameerah is an award-winning, strategic public relations practitioner and dynamic trainer helping organizations elevate their brand. With expertise in social media, marketing research and brand journalism, she is an enthusiastic strategist for digital communication and marketing campaigns.

Learn more about her and register for the PILI Alumni Summit here
SNAP a Focus of House Farm Bill Hearing

The House Agriculture Committee yesterday held a hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the upcoming Farm Bill. Key discussion topics were the reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, program costs, the online purchasing pilot, Emergency Allotments, and consumer choice.

The ability to purchase sugar-based beverages and potato chips under SNAP was brought up by multiple Republican members – Ranking Member Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Cali.) – who argued that SNAP should limit food purchase abilities to “nutritious” items, drawing comparisons to WIC. Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Stacy Dean responded that it was a statutory issue and that the department’s authority for SNAP is different from the WIC and School Food Programs. The Thrifty Food Plan’s reevaluation from this past year was also a key discussion point especially in regard to the increase in cost.
USDA Seeking to Improve Efficiency of SNAP Program

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service announced on Tuesday that $5 million in competitive grants are being made available to enhance efficiency and access in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through process and technology improvements.

The multi-year grants seek to improve the experience of SNAP participants by enabling grantees to update inefficient or ineffective processes or use technology to streamline operations and provide better customer service. The application process also requires grant applicants to demonstrate how their initiatives will affect SNAP with respect to equity and inclusion, which supports the Administration’s focus on advancing racial equity.

Applications are now open and must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST, June 27, 2022. The three-year grants will be announced in fall 2022. More information is available here.
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