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US Potato growers score with spending bill provision

White potatoes: includes colored regular potatoes too!
December 10, 2014
Count the potato among the special interests rewarded in the massive spending deal Congress unveiled this week.

Tucked into $1 trillion bill: a provision that reverses the ban on white potatoes in the federal government's nutritional program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The program provides vouchers to help low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women buy nutritious food for themselves and their children younger than 5.

In 2007, the WIC program expanded to make fresh vegetables and fruits and eligible for purchase with the vouchers. But white potatoes did not make the cut. Government scientists argued that most Americans did not need the extra inducement to consume the starchy vegetable.

Potato growers fought back, defending the spud as a prime source of potassium and fiber.

They appear to have scored a big victory with inclusion in a bill that is needed to avert a government shutdown. Not surprisingly, a lawmaker from potato-producing Idaho crafted the language.

"This bill corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families," Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, a senior appropriator, said in a statement Wednesday.

John Keeling, and executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council, said credit also goes to "scores and scores" of federal lawmakers who have "weighed in on the issue" over the years.

"We're pleased about this," Keeling said. "We think it's a good way to put this issue behind us and move forward."
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The National Potato Council is looking after the interest of the potato growers in the United States. The NPC website provides information on potato history, potato cultivation, potato statistics and US state potato organisations