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A P R I L 2 0 1 6 POTATO GROWER 17 Growers Stand Up For Potatoes On Capitol Hill On February 22-25 NPC hosted the 2016 Potato D.C. Fly-In where more than 130 U.S. potato growers and indus- try partners from across the country came to Washington D.C. to advocate for the industrys most pressing federal policy priorities. Growers blanketed Capitol Hill and met with federal regu- lators at USDA and EPA. During their Hill and agency visits growers urged Congress and agency officials to address key industry issues including the Potato Research Special Grant Pollinator Health Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP and other trade affairs Voluntary GMO Labeling waters of the U.S. WOTUS rule and pesticide regulations. Rep. Reid Ribble R-WI addressed atten- dees on the truck weight legislation that was ultimately taken out of the long- term transportation reauthorization bill that passed last year. Rep. Ribble thanked growers for their efforts in fighting for an increased truck weight limit and encouraged them to pursue this issue even harder going forward. Fly-In attendees also heard from Rep. Dan Newhouse R-WA who spoke on the importance of improving port per- formance for potatoes that are to be shipped overseas and answered ques- tions related to the topic. Both represen- tatives thanked attendees for making the trip and noted the positive impact it leaves when lawmakers see that con- stituents care enough to visit and share their concerns. Additional speakers included agency officials such as EPA Administrator Jim Jones and Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the Food and Drug Administration FDA Mike Taylor who gave growers an overview of the imple- mentation process for the Food Safety Modernization Act FSMA. Jones spoke on a broad array of topics that are impactful to the grower community such as pesticide regulations waters of the U.S. WOTUS and worker protec- tion standards. He said that EPA is work- ing steadily with the potato industry to ensure that government regulations are not hindering grower operations. Taylor spoke on the Food Safety Modernization Act FSMA and said that the regulations are meant to be risk based and are not meant to compromise potato produc- tion. Before visiting Capitol Hill the Congressional Management Found- ations Management Consultant Phil Flewallen gave growers good tips on how to communicate their concerns to lawmakers comfortably and effectively. Fly-In attendees also heard from a num- ber of renowned political strategists and commentators including Bestselling Author NBCMSNBC Political Analyst and Huffington Post Global Editorial Editor Howard Fineman National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio Mara Liasson and Senior Writer for The Weekly Standard and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes. The political analysts gave their views on the upcoming presidential election and the current domestic and international cli- mate. Journalist and author of the New York Times Bestseller The Big Fat Surprise Why Butter Meat Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet Nina Teicholz. Teicholz spoke on the topic of low-fat nutrition advice and the problems with the use of epidemiologic studies in setting nutri- tion policy. Greg Campbell and TJ Hall grower- shippers from Grafton and Edinburg North Dakota respectively along with Jared Erickson of Black Gold Farms headquartered in Grand Forks were in DC as part of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute joined up with Fly- In attendees NPPGA President Chuck Gunnerson and growers Brian Vculek from Crete North Dakota and Justin Dagen from Karlstad Minnesota. Left to right Justin Dagen TJ Hall Jared Erickson North Dakota Senator John Hoeven Chuck Gunnerson Brian Vculek and Greg Campbell.