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Potatoes closely following House appropriation amendments

The head of the National Potato Council says some last-minute U.S. House spending bill amendments for the next fiscal year could be harmful to growers.

Kam Quarles tells Brownfield “There have been some poison pill amendments that have been inserted, one amendment would shut down all of the USDA checkoff programs, the research and promotion orders.”

The council joins several commodity organizations opposed to a bill introduced by Republican representatives Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Thomas Massie of Kentucky to block government funding of the nearly 25 national research and promotion programs.  No taxpayer dollars are used to administer Checkoff programs, they are funded through grower assessments.

Quarles says another measure would strongly limit potatoes in school meal programs.

“It’s really tough to construct a breakfast with vegetables on the plate if potatoes aren’t at least an option some of the days a week,” he says.

Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey’s amendment would revert a bipartisan perversion in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill back to regulations set by the Obama Administration which says potatoes can only be served at school breakfast after other vegetables are served first. 

Quarles says the amendment would increase costs for individual schools, decrease menu flexibility and increase food waste.

Appropriation negotiations will resume after the August recess.

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