USDA to Keep the Potatoes as Vegetable, Reports Senator Collins 

NPC will continue to monitor the DGA writing process

Long-time potato industry champion U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced this week that she received a call from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack who told her the “USDA will officially support keeping potatoes classified as a vegetable, and not a grain.”   

“This decision followed the bipartisan letter she led with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) opposing any reclassification of potatoes as a grain instead of a vegetable, or including recommendations that potatoes and grains are interchangeable as changes to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) are being considered,” wrote Senator Collins in a press release.  

“The reclassification of potatoes would have sent a false message to the public that the USDA believes that potatoes are not healthy. The fact is, when prepared properly, the potato is a wonderfully nutritious food that is affordable, easy to transport, has a long storage life, and can be used in a wide array of recipes,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased Secretary Vilsack called me personally to tell me that the USDA has no intention of reclassifying potatoes and recognizes that potatoes are, in fact, a vegetable. I urge the DHHS to follow the USDA’s lead and recognize the same reality.” 

“This certainly is a positive development, and we couldn’t be more grateful for our congressional champions like Senators Collins and Bennet for advocating on behalf of America’s potato growers. We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s clarification that potatoes will not be reclassified out of the vegetable category or, just as importantly, made interchangeable with grains,” said NPC President and Colorado potato grower Bob Mattive reacting to the news. “Over a year ago, we raised concerns after learning that the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee began reviewing potato’s interchangeability with or reclassification as a grain. We take seriously any effort to treat potatoes differently than other vegetables—this is not the first time the potato industry has needed to push back against federal efforts to limit potato consumption. And while this is good news, NPC will continue to monitor the DGA writing process to ensure the federal government focuses on increasing Americans’ vegetable consumption, rather than picking winners and losers in the vegetable category.”  

In a report by The Hill, the reporter put the effort into context, noting that, “In 2011, when the USDA proposed a limit of two servings of starchy vegetables a week, the potato industry fought back, with the backing of senators from potato-growing states. The Senate approved a measure blocking the USDA from imposing caps.” 

Senator Collins’ announcement was quickly picked up by national media, including stories that ran in news outlets The Hill, Fox News, the Bangor Daily News