Applications Open for 2023 Potato Industry Leadership Institute

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is currently accepting applications for the 2023 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI), February 22–March 3, 2023. PILI provides tools to help 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.

The Leadership Institute is a 10-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 2023 program will begin in Buffalo, New York, travel through Pennsylvania, and conclude in Washington, D.C., where the class will participate in NPC’s Washington Summit.

The participant application and additional information can be found here. All applications must be submitted electronically by Friday, October 22, 2022. Confirmation of participation will be sent by November 11, 2022.

NPC Sustains Anti-tax Stance for Small Businesses and Family Farms

In response to recent media reports on congressional efforts to raise taxes on small businesses to support increased federal spending, NPC and dozens of national trade organizations issued a letter this week to House and Senate leaders opposing any new taxes.

“The NPC Board was very clear on this during our annual meeting in February. Despite Congressional efforts to resurrect previous failures to increase taxes, we aren’t wavering from our members’ strong common-sense statement,” said RJ Andrus, NPC VP of Legislative Affairs.

Arguing that the tax hikes under consideration would fall entirely on small businesses, the organizations representing millions of businesses and employing tens of millions of American workers urged congressional leaders not to raise taxes on small, individually, and family-owned businesses as part of any effort to enact a reconciliation bill this year.

Two tax increase efforts under scrutiny include: 1) expanding the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) to individuals and families who actively participate in their business; and 2) limiting the ability of small, individually, and family-owned businesses to fully deduct their losses during an economic downturn by expanding and extending the so-called “excess business loss limitation” for “noncorporate taxpayers.” “Combined, these would increase revenues by more than $400 billion over ten years, shouldered entirely on the backs of small, individually, and family-owned businesses,” wrote the group.

This effort continues NPC’s stance against paying for increased federal spending on the backs of America’s family farms. During the NPC 2020 Summer Meeting, NPC formally went on record against undermining important tax provisions like changing in the estate tax and eliminating stepped-up basis.

State Managers Take Priorities to Capitol Hill

Managers from state potato organizations joined NPC this week in our nation’s capital to meet with key Biden Administration officials, Members of Congress, and committee staff members to advocate for potato priorities.

During an in-person meeting at NPC’s office, the group met with Jenny Moffitt, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Dr. Mark Davidson, USDA Deputy Administrator, Plant Protection and Quarantine, to express the potato industry’s gratitude for the Administration’s support in gaining fresh potato access to the full Mexican market and discuss the ongoing cooperation needed to keep the border open.

The State Managers then walked to Capitol Hill to meet with key committee staff members to discuss 2023 Farm Bill priorities and ensuring that potatoes retain their rightful place in federal feeding programs. The group met with:

  • U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Majority and Minority Staff
  • U.S. House Agriculture Committee Majority and Minority Staff
  • U.S. House Appropriations Committee Agriculture Subcommittee Staff
  • U.S. House Ways and Means Trade Staff

National Potato Council Applauds First Shipments of U.S. Fresh Potatoes to Mexico in 25-plus Years

WASHINGTON – The National Potato Council today welcomed the news that the first shipments of U.S. fresh potatoes crossed into Mexico yesterday, May 11. The successful crossings signal the start of Mexico’s process to restore full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes after decades of disputes and legal obstructions.

“This is an important moment for the U.S. potato industry and our partners in the federal government who have fought for decades to restore access to this vital market, but we know the work is not over if we are to keep the border open,” said NPC President and Washington state potato grower Jared Balcom.

The shipments come after more than 25 years of regulatory and legal obstructions by Mexico, and one year after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled unanimously that U.S. fresh potatoes were legally authorized to be imported.

“Today’s news wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of Secretary Tom Vilsack, Ambassador Katherine Tai, and their outstanding teams at USDA and USTR,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. “Both agencies have made the restoration of U.S. potato access a top U.S. trade priority. We thank them for getting us to this important step and we will need their continued partnership to ensure that the border remains open as we seek to grow the Mexican market for potatoes.”

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products valued at $394 million in 2021. Despite the previous restriction to the 26-kilometer border region, Mexico was the second-largest market for fresh potato exports in 2021, accounting for 124,449 metric tons valued at $60 million last year. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes will provide a market potential of $250 million per year, in five years.

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From the National Potato Council. Read here

Planting Falls Way Behind In North Dakota and Minnesota

Last year at this time, 39% of North Dakota potatoes had been planted. So far this year, no potatoes have been reported planted in the latest USDA-NASS Crop Progress & Condition Report. Average potato planting progress for this date is 24% complete.

Things aren’t much better in Minnesota where only 8% of the potato crop has been planted. That compares to 74% last year and 54% average.
Other North Dakota Crops
Spring wheat planted was 8%, well behind 63% last year and 37% for the
five-year average. Durum wheat planted was 3%, well behind 37% last year and 23% average. Corn planted was 1%, well behind 33% last year, and behind 18% average. Canola planted was 2%, behind 18% last year and 14% average. Sugarbeets planted was 2%, well behind 91% last year and 62% average. Oats planted was 11%, well behind 47% last year and 32% average. Barley planted was 6%, well behind 60% last year and 33% average. Dry edible peas planted was 4%, well behind 43% last year and 32% average. Flaxseed planted was 3%, behind 14% last year and 10% average.
Other Minnesota Crops
Corn planting reached 9% complete, compared to 48% last year and the 5-year average of 81%. Soybean planting was 2% complete, compared to 59% last year and the 5-year average of 25%. Planting progress for spring wheat is at 2%, compared to 93% last year and 63% average. Oats at 23% compares to 86% last year and 58% average. Barley at 5% planted, compared to 85% last year and 43% average. Sugarbeets at 8% planted compares to 59% last year and 25% average.
The entire Northern Plains has been plagued by below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation this spring.
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Meet Jacey Kuersteiner | NPPGA’s Office/Finance Manager

Some of you may have met Jacey Kuersteiner at last February’s NPPGA Annual Meeting. Jacey had just been hired at the time, but is now settled in as NPPGA’s Office and Finance Manager.

The Crookston, MN native has a degree in Finance and has worked in various financial and management roles throughout her career.

Jacey lives in rural Thompson, ND with her husband Branden and their 6 year-old daughter Harper (photo). In her free time Jacey loves to travel, complete DYI-projects and spend time with her family.

Jacey says, “Having resided in the Red River Valley my entire life, I understand the importance of agriculture to both our local and global economy. I am excited to learn more about the potato industry and support the growers of the Northern Plains.”

Fun fact: Jacey has dual citizenship with The United States and Switzerland!

Heavy Precipitation in the Red River Valley will Likely Lead to Late Potato Planting

Just when it appeared a routine spring melt and flood season was past us, heavy rain saturated the Red River Valley late last week. The late spring flood will set the start of planting season back for nearly all crops in the Red River Valley, including potatoes.
Overland flooding from the Forest River along Hwy 81 just south of Minto, ND.
This National Weather Service map issued yesterday shows how widespread flooding is in the Red River Valley. (Green: Flood Warning)
As of yesterday, many smaller streams had peaked but were still very high and overland flooding continued. The Red River is expected to crest at major flood stage in Grand Forks tomorrow and downstream at Drayton, ND this coming weekend. Overland flooding has been widespread and many highways and county and township roads in the region have been washed out.
Most automated weather stations (NDAWN) throughout the region have recorded more than two inches of rain since last Friday, most of which fell on saturated topsoil from the spring melt and still-frozen subsoil. The weather station at the Grand Forks Potato Research Farm recorded nearly four inches of rain over that period.

More precipitation is forecast this coming weekend along with well below normal temperatures for the rest of this week.

– Ted Kreis – NPPGA Communications

EPA Releases Workplan to Address Backlog of Endangered Species Pesticide Reviews

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released a workplan to address its obligations to protect both endangered species and register pesticides. The plan identifies as the agency’s highest priority those evaluations that are required to meet court-ordered deadlines of more than 50 pesticide active ingredients, including neonicotinoids.

“Completing this work will take EPA past 2040, yet the work represents less than 5% of all the (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) decisions in the next decade for which ESA obligations exist,” EPA’s press release said. “This is an unsustainable and legally tenuous situation, in which EPA’s schedule for meeting its ESA obligations has historically been determined through the courts,” the agency said. “The work-plan must provide a path for the agency to meet those obligations on its own, thus protecting endangered species while supporting responsible pesticide use.”

The next priority will be new registrations for conventional pesticide active ingredients following the agency’s announcement earlier this year that it would not register new active ingredients without first assessing their impacts on endangered species. The plan also calls out the Pesticide Program’s low staffing levels (603 in 2021 compared to 808 in 2005) as compounding the extent of the backlog.

The National Potato Council is currently in the process of reviewing the workplan along with others in the agricultural community and will be providing suggestions to EPA to assist with the plan.

Agreement Reached to Open Mexican Market to U.S. Potatoes by May 15

This week in Mexico, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with Mexico Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos to discuss their shared priorities on agriculture trade, science-based policy making, and sustainable and climate-smart agricultural production. At the conclusion of their meetings on Tuesday, Secretaries Vilsack and Villalobos announced the two countries “have concluded all necessary plant health protocols and agreed to a final visit by Mexican officials in April that finalizes expanded access to the entire Mexican market no later than May 15 for all U.S. table stock and chipping potatoes according to the agreed workplan.”

During a press availability after the meeting, Politico (subscription required) reported that Secretary Vilsack called Mexico’s agreement to live up to its trade obligations to allow U.S. potatoes full access by May 15 the “most significant” announcement from his visit with this Mexican counterpart.

From ‘Eye on D.C.’ Newsletter. Read more here.

NPC Joins Call for Climate-Smart Ag Investments in Infrastructure Bill

Last week the Senate unveiled an updated version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure package negotiated between the White House and a bipartisan group of Senators. In response, the National Potato Council and a coalition of 12 agricultural and conservation organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership supporting the bill’s significant new funding for climate-smart agricultural practices that can help farmers to build on their environmental stewardship leadership. The group wrote: “Farmers and ranchers tend with great care to their natural resources while taking a proactive approach to the long-term sustainability of their land and water. Currently, USDA conservation financial incentives and technical assistance provide producers with voluntary, incentive-based assistance to carry out multiple stewardship practices on their operations. Programs also support partnerships between farmers and conservation groups to improve natural resources in targeted areas. However, more can be done to emphasize innovative approaches that can yield meaningful environmental benefits, including manure and feed management or carbon benefits in the case of soil health.” While the organizations also voiced their support for the bill’s increased rural broadband investments, they reiterated their significant concerns regarding multiple tax policies that have been put forth as potential offsets for infrastructure legislation. “Specifically, we urge Congress not to alter or eliminate long-standing provisions that support future new and multi-generational family farms. As discussions on offsets continue, it is critical to avoid an approach that would undermine the future of farming in the United States,” they wrote. The full letter can be found here.

Continue reading “NPC Joins Call for Climate-Smart Ag Investments in Infrastructure Bill”