Three Congressional Priorities For Potato Growers
This fall, Congress faces unfinished business, and growers are counting on Congress to finish the year strong by enacting common-sense measures that benefit the potato industry. NPC will continue to advocate for action on key issues impacting the grower community, including GMO labeling, truck weight reform, and research funding.
Voluntary GMO Labeling
In July, the House approved the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599), which will pre-empt state and local mandatory GMO labeling laws and create a national voluntary labeling law. This measure eliminates the confusion associated with a patchwork of state labeling standards and establishes FDA as the authority to make science-based food safety decisions. Potato growers want to supply consumers with the potatoes they desire: GMO or non-GMO.
H.R. 1599 supports consumer choice and creates an environment where consumers can be served efficiently. The bill garnered bipartisan approval in the House, and we believe this will give it significant momentum in the Senate.
Truck Weight Reform
Increasing truck weight limits on federal highways will boost safety and reduce the number of trucks on the road. Increasing shipping efficiency, reducing wear and tear on our infrastructure, and lowering costs and emissions are good for our country. In June, the Department of Transportation released findings from the department’s study which strongly supported increasing truck weights.
Data collected from the study confirms the safety and efficiency of a six-axle truck carrying 97,000 pounds. The reauthorization of the highway bill, which is being considered by Congress, provides the legislative vehicle to approve truck weight reform.
Funding For Breeding Research
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved $2 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture potato breeding research program. This is a $650,000 increase from the last fiscal year on research that focuses on improving potato varieties to address production challenges and consumer preferences. The breeding projects utilize the expertise of USDA scientists and independent plant breeders to deliver measurable improvements in the efficiency and quality of potato production.
Without question, maintaining and strengthening this investment will address future pest and disease threats by developing improved varieties. NPC will continue to concentrate on working with Congress to ensure that a potato breeding funding increase is included in the final FY 2016 spending bill.
Our efforts need to increase to achieve our goals before the first session of the 114th Congress adjourns this fall. Ask your representative to support the potato industry on these important issues.