b'2020 Impact On The IndustryAnd The NPCby Kam Quarles, NPC Executive Vice President and CEOAlthough2020isbarelyinthe careerinWashington,Ivedealtreview mirror, looking back on it is with many disaster relief programs,almostlikeviewingtwoentirely yet it was sobering to see the COVIDseparate worlds: one is pre-COVID, numbers,whichhadlotsofextraand the other is what we have been zeros attached to them. To help peo-livingwithsincetheshutdowns plevisualizetheindustryschal-began. lenge,aswegatheredthedatatoexplaintoUSDAandCapitolHillPre-COVID, the U.S. potato industry howbigthebacklogofpotatoesgenerally was having a strong year. would be, we determined that at itsForNPC,wehadanewteamin height it could fill the U.S. Capitolplace and were extremely proud to Building 14 times over. follow the largest Potato Expo everwith a highly successful Potato D.C. Inresponse,ourindustryralliedFly-In, outstanding 2020 Leadership into action. NPC and the state pota-NPCInstitute, and strong kick-off for the toorganizationscreatedasimplenew Potato LEAF Foundation. buteffectiveplantoimmediatelyprovide relief: As a new CEO, I was thrilled at theMessagevalue our talented team was deliver- First, we had to push USDA to tem-ingfortheindustry.ThenMarch porarilybecomeourcustomerinhappened As the weeks wore on, a theabsenceofthefoodservicepredictablecascadeofevents industryinordertoclearouttheoccurred that threatened the liveli- growing backlog.hoods of family farmers and indus-trypartnersacrossthecountry. Second,weneededtoconvinceWithout food service customers, the USDA to provide meaningful disas-inevitablebacklogsandindustry terrelieftogrowerswhowereimpactwerestaggeringbothfor impacted, in order to stabilize thesegrowers and also for our D.C. team family farms until the marketplaceas advocates for the industry. strengthened.All of this focused teamwork gener-Over the course of my 20-plus year atedresults.USDArespondedby8 POTATO GROWER JANUARY 2021'