DiscoverEye on Potatoes: A Podcast on All Things Potatoes
Eye on Potatoes: A Podcast on All Things Potatoes
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Eye on Potatoes: A Podcast on All Things Potatoes

Author: Eye on Potatoes

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The Eye on Potatoes Podcast is brought to you by the National Potato Council. This is the place to tune in for conversations with growers and thought leaders on advocacy, production and all things potatoes. It's about talking with folks across the United States and hearing stories about how federal policy impacts potato farming and the important role the NPC plays in standing up for potatoes on Capitol Hill.
23 Episodes
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Leading agriculture political advisor Randy Russell of The Russell Group joins National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles and host Lane Nordlund for an in-depth discussion of the 2020 election results and how the potato industry will work with the new Congress and Biden Administration to advance its policy priorities. The group forecasts the potential to move forward the industry’s trade agenda, legislation that would help secure a stable workforce, and ensuring potatoes remain in federal nutrition programs. Additionally, with the government funding deadline around the corner and Capitol Hill debating the next round of COVID relief, they discuss what the Lame Duck session might hold for growers and the rest of America.   
Host Lane Nordland and Mike Wenkel, COO of the National Potato Council, sit down to discuss the first 11 months of the newly formed Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF). From a successful launch at Potato Expo 2020, Potato LEAF challenged the industry with a $2 million fundraising goal to support the Foundation's Legacy Fund, designed to fund programs like the Potato Industry Leadership Institute well into the future.  Despite dealing with a pandemic, Mike shares how the U.S. potato industry has risen to the challenge and is on the cusp of hitting its funding goal. He also shares ways to make a contribution or pledge to the foundation by visiting www.pleaf.org.
Though 2020 has been a challenging year for potato growers and the entire country, the year saw a number of significant trade victories, with markets expanded in Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and with other trade partners. Since 20% of the U.S. potato crop is currently destined for foreign consumers, trade is a priority for U.S. growers and the entire potato industry. Joining the podcast is Jared Balcom, NPC Vice President for Trade Affairs and Washington State potato grower, and Matt Lantz, Vice President, Global Access, Bryant Christie Inc., to talk about the recent trade pacts, opportunities for 2021, as well as ongoing challenges with Mexico and other nations.In addition, Kam Quarles, NPC CEO, and Hollee Alexander, NPC VP of Industry Relations and Events, calls in to provide an update on Potato Expo 2021. The largest potato industry conference and trade show in North America, the 2021 event has been reimagined as a Virtual Experience, held exclusively online. Learn more at potato-expo.com. 
With less than a month before Election Day, NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in to discuss how potato growers are accessing $14 billion in aid available through USDA's new CFAP 2 program and the latest Congressional efforts to fund the government until early December. Kam also provides an update on Potato Expo 2021, currently scheduled for January 6-7 as an in-person and online hybrid event and NPC's Annual Meeting, moved to coincide with February's Potato D.C. Fly-In.  
Farmers, retailers, and consumers are faced with a host of regulations and labels that are designed to inform and secure our food supply. From the biotech disclosure regulations to the Food Safety Modernization Act, the requirements upon the food supply chain and the information it provides consumers are changing rapidly. During Potato Expo 2020, we brought together policy experts for a conversation designed to cut through the confusion and let listeners know what obligations and information are coming their way.Guests: Kam Quarles, CEO, National Potato CouncilTyson Redpath, SVP, The Russell Group 
On Friday, Sept. 18, the National Potato Council welcomed the announcement that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program -- CFAP 2 -- which will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in from DC to react to the breaking news and to thank USDA for taking this additional step toward relief for the members of the potato industry who have experienced significant economic hardships in 2020.
Over the past 20 years, NPC and the U.S. potato industry have been working to allow full access to U.S. fresh potatoes to be sold throughout Mexico. On Aug. 18, three U.S. Senators called on U.S. trade negotiators to use the new authority found in the USMCA to increase pressure on Mexico to honor its commitment to allow access to U.S. fresh potatoes.  NPC CEO Kam Quarles joined the podcast to discuss this long-simmering issue, which could amount to over $100 million annually, benefiting U.S. potato growers and Mexican consumers alike. Due to litigation brought by the Mexican potato cartel against their own government, U.S. fresh potatoes cannot be shipped beyond 26 kilometers of U.S.-Mexico border. This is a violation of a 2014 Mexican government decision to allow full access to U.S. fresh potatoes to be sold throughout Mexico and violates Mexico’s responsibilities under the World Trade Organization and the new USMCA. The litigation is currently before the Mexican Supreme Court, which has been on hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. 
NPC President Britt Raybould calls in from Idaho to talk about the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), which are currently being drafted by USDA and U.S. Health and Human Services, as well as NPC's efforts to advocate for the inclusion of potatoes in all forms in the recommendations. NPC has played an active role in nutrition policy for many years, most recently correcting various policy decisions under the Obama Administration that disregarded nutrition science in the pursuit of excluding white potatoes from several federal feeding programs. It is anticipated that the final DGAs will be published before the end of 2020.  
More than 160 participants from EPA, USDA, and throughout the potato industry joined NPC’s virtual Agency Tour in July, gaining a better understanding of the pest challenges faced by potato growers across the nation in growing and delivering potatoes to market.  NPC COO Mike Wenkel calls in to discuss the importance of the annual tour, which provides federal regulators information on pest management related to growing seed and in the pre-plant, planting, in the field, and post-harvest stages. Mike also discusses what the next round of coronavirus food assistance might look like as negotiations continue in Washington.  Jim Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee -- who was scheduled to host the in-person tour before it was moved to a virtual event -- also joins the podcast to talk about potato production and crop protection tools utilized in the San Luis Valley.
Recognizing the need to continue to advance potato production practices, the U.S. potato industry is engaged is a wide spectrum of research encompassing the development of new varieties, soil health, and pest management. At Potato Expo 2020, we sat down with some of the industry's leading researchers and specialists for a discussion on the current research and where future efforts need to focus.Plus, NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in to provide an update on USDA's decision to revise the payment rates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which previously prevented potato growers from receiving equitable access to relief funds.Guests:Kerwin Bradley, Chief Production Officer, Black Gold FarmsJohn Lundeen, Research Director, Potatoes USAMark Pavek, Associate Professor/Potato Specialist, Washington State UniversityMike Wenkel, Chief Operating Officer, National Potato Council  
As part of NPC’s 2020 Summer Meeting VIRTUAL on June 25, NPC President Britt Raybould, CEO Kam Quarles, and COO Mike Wenkel presented the “State of the Industry and COVID-19 Response” to update growers and industry supporters on actions taken on the federal level to support the industry during these unprecedented times.The “State of the Industry” also included reports by Mark Klompien, CEO of United Potato Growers of America, Matt Lantz, Vice President of Global Access, Bryant Christie Inc., Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA, and John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer of Potatoes USA.
The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (LEAF) is a new 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing the tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders. Joining the podcast is Shelley Olsen of LJ Olsen, Inc. in Othello, Wash., and Chair of Potato LEAF to talk about how the industry is coming together to grow leaders who will thrive in the competitive global marketplace of the future.Plus, NPC CEO Kam Quarles provides an update on NPC's efforts to support growers as the nation works to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.  
As potato growers continue to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic fallout, Congressman Mike Simpson and the entire Idaho Congressional delegation are championing policy solutions to support the nation's struggling potato industry. Congressman Simpson joins the podcast to discuss the role Congress needs to play as the industry works to dig out from a 1.5 billion pound oversupply of 2019 potatoes stuck in the supply chain and seeks meaningful direct payment relief to keep family farms in business. Also, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles calls in from D.C. to discuss the $300 million in additional potato purchases the industry needs to help bring supply and demand back into balance. Guests: U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)NPC CEO Kam Quarles 
In early 2020, the potato industry launched the Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) to support the efforts of growers to adapt potato production practices that align with consumer and market expectations. During Potato Expo 2020, we sat down with some of the industry's leaders for a discussion on the cooperative work to support, advance, and communicate potato sustainability across the supply chain. Guests: Tommy Jackson, Sustainable Solutions Account Manager at Syngenta USATammy McElroy, Senior Director Sustainability, SyscoJolyn Rasmussen, Raw Product Development and Sustainability, JR SimplotLaura Scandurra, Executive Director, Potato Sustainability AllianceEd Schneider, Partner, Schneider Farms, WashingtonMike Wenkel, Chief Operating Officer, National Potato Council
NPC CEO Kam Quarles and Eye on Potatoes host Lane Nordlund sit down to discuss the latest on COVID-19, its impact on the potato industry, the government response, and how NPC and its state partners are supporting growers in this unprecedented time.  
As the federal government reviews the proposed 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which will become the foundation for future decisions made by USDA, HHS, and other departments about which commodities can access various nutrition programs, the potato industry is working to ensure the DGA process accurately reflects the nutritional value of potatoes. Pam Miller, Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, and Beth Johnson, Principal & CEO of Food Directions, who works to navigate the food policy landscape, joined the Potato D.C. Fly-In to talk about the importance of the federal nutrition programs and place of potatoes within them. Guests: Pam Miller, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service Beth Johnson, MS, RD, Principal & CEO, Food Directions LLCKam Quarles, CEO, National Potato Council
In recognition of National Agriculture Day, NPC launched a new social media campaign called #EssentialAg to thank all of those working to keep America’s food supply safe, secure, and abundant. Plus, U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) joins the podcast to discuss efforts to move forward ag workforce reform legislation during a time when the country is focused on ensuring the security of the U.S. food supply. 
Famed political commentator Charlie Cook joins the podcast prior to his Potato D.C. Fly-In remarks to talk about importance of direct advocacy for membership-based organizations like NPC, and to look into his crystal ball to forecast Super Tuesday and the 2020 race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.NPC President Britt Raybould and Vice President of Legislative and Governmental Affairs RJ Andrus sit down to talk about the role of growers and allied industry partners in advocating for policy priorities that could impact family farms for decades. Finally, NPC CEO Kam Quarles looks back on a successful 2020 Potato D.C. Fly-In week that elevated the industry’s issues among decision makers on Capitol Hill and throughout the Administration.      Guests: Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and columnist for the National Journal NPC President Britt RaybouldNPC Vice President of Legislative and Governmental Affairs RJ AndrusNPC CEO Kam Quarles
Ensuring the nutritional value of potatoes is scientifically documented is essential for the creation of sound food policy. At Potato Expo 2020, the industry’s leading experts on the intersection of sound science and good food policy sit down to discuss the latest efforts to advance the scientific understanding of the role potatoes play in promoting the health of all people. Plus, NPC CEO Kam Quarles provides a preview of the Potato D.C. Fly-In, where growers from across the country come together to stand up for potatoes on Capitol Hill. Guests: Mitch Kanter, Chief Scientific Officer, FoodMinds, IncKeith McGovern, CEO, R. D. Offutt Company and Chair of the Alliance for Potato Research & Education (APRE)Kam Quarles, CEO, National Potato Council
NPC's Kam Quarles provides a D.C. update after the President's signing of the USMCA trade agreement, and an expert panel at Potato Expo 2020 takes a deep dive into the challenging issue of disharmonized international maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides, including how foreign countries’ differing standards are affecting potato trade and can hinder a grower’s choices when seeking to grow a healthy crop.Guests: Kam Quarles, CEO, National Potato CouncilRachel Lattimore, SVP & General Counsel, CropLife AmericaMatt Lantz, International Market Access Division Manager, Bryant Christie
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