S E P T E M B E R / O C O T O B E R 2 0 1 7 28 POTATO GROWER People, Product News Alliance Meets to Set Priorities for 2018 Farm Bill In early August the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) met to finalize the industry's recommenda- tions for the upcoming Farm Bill. NPC CEO John Keeling is one of three nationwide leaders of the Alliance and was on-hand for the full day of deliberations. "This marks the end of a three-month policy process that will give our industry strong momentum head- ing into the Farm Bill debate," said Mr. Keeling. One of the major new items that the Alliance agreed upon was the need for additional resources for specialty crop research. Over the life of the next Farm Bill, it is rec- ommended that an additional $100 million be added to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to provide the necessary resources to keep the industry competitive. Other recommendations included substantial enhancements to USDA's export promotion programs along with staff resources for both the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service. The SCFBA is beginning work on its third full Farm Bill. During its exis- tence, the results of this industry- wide coalition include the creation of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Programs, SCRI, the expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and enhanced pest and disease resources. In total, those programs comprise over $3 billion in invest- ments in the specialty crop industry over the life of the Farm Bill. Mexican Court Ruling Ignores Science The recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on U.S. potatoes in most of Mexico ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA. The ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. SAGARPA has completed and pub- lished a Pest Risk Assessment that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facili- tated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion. The ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal prod- ucts by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico. The ruling is expected to be appealed by parties with a direct interest in the case, including SAGARPA. The U.S. potato industry is confident that a more thorough review of the facts of this case and the acknowledgement of estab- lished phytosanitary trade practices by the judicial system in Mexico will alter the outcome of this deci- sion. Based on the initial review by our legal team, the ruling will not limit the movement of U.S. potatoes into the 26 km zone along the border. Potato growers in the U.S. have been supplying Mexican consumers in this region with potatoes since Mexico and the U.S. signed a bilat- eral agreement in 2003. That agree- ment called for an expansion of access for U.S. potatoes to all of Mexico. Actions taken by SAGARPA in 2013 finally implemented the full scope of this agreement, but challenge to those actions by Mexican potato growers has pre- vented all Mexican consumers from having access to U.S. potatoes. NPC Awards Academic Scholarship for Potato Research The National Potato Council (NPC) announces that Adrienne Gorny, a fourth-year doctoral student in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University, is the recipient of the 2017-2018 NPC Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 award is provided annually to a