Research is of critical importance to address the challenge of providing food and fiber to a growing population. The National Potato Council supports a coordinated public and private research effort to improve U.S. potato nutrition, quality, and yield.
NIFA Potato Breeding Research
For more than 30 years, the National Potato Council has worked with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to secure funding for NIFA’s Potato Research Special Grants, which supports the future of the U.S. potato industry through the funding of competitive potato breeding projects across the country.
Each of these peer-reviewed research projects addresses actual challenges impacting potato production, utilizes the expertise of USDA scientists and independent plant breeders, and delivers measurable improvements in the efficiency and quality of potato production. The “non-federal” contributions to these vital projects (provided by growers, state grower organizations and land grant universities) provide more than a two-to-one match to funding provided by NIFA.
For FY23, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill provided $4 million for NIFA’s potato research special grants. NPC thanks the both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for continuing to support this vital program.
For FY24, given the solid return on investment from NIFA’s potato breeding research program and the demands placed upon it due to phytosanitary challenges facing the potato industry, we request enhanced funding to $4.5 million. Examples of successful new potato varieties developed in recent years as a result of these funding dollars include Clearwater (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), Caribou (Maine), Manistee (Michigan), and Lamoka (New York), providing the industry with industry with various levels of disease resistance and other traits that have reduced grower losses.
ARS Potato Collaborative Research Program
For FY24 NPC is requesting members of Congress to ask the Appropriations Committees to maintain report language in their respective bills that recognizes the value of the ARS Potato Collaborative Research Program. ARS funding for the potato research projects under this program is typically around $1.12 million.
We request the following language regarding NIFA Integrated Activities on Pest Management Programs be included in the FY24 Agriculture Appropriations Bill:
Potato Research – To minimize the application of pesticides and to maximize the yield and quality of harvested potatoes, the Committee directs the Secretary to support pest management programs in potato growing states. Such programs help scientists track potential pest outbreaks and provide growers and industry professionals with current information on specific and timely treatments. Additionally, the programs help identify serious diseases, such as late blight, in their early stages, allowing for preventive measures to be put into place quickly to avoid crop losses.
Specialty Crop Research Initiative
The 2018 Farm Bill inadvertently left out the matching fund waiver authority for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). This could compromise otherwise valuable research. At the request of NPC and the U.S. potato industry, this waiver authority was restored in the FY21 Appropriations Bill and should be maintained in any successor.
Potato Sustainability Alliance
Members of PSA, which include NPC and more than 550 U.S. and Canadian farmers, are committed to advancing a common vision of potato sustainability and delivering economic, environmental, and social outcomes at scale.
Alliance for Potato Research & Education
As a member of APRE, NPC is supporting the advancement of scientific understanding of the role potatoes play in promoting the health of all people.