Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Badger Common’Tater April 2023 Issue

Wisconsin Stands Up for Potatoes at Washington Summit

WPVGA grower members, staff, and PILI participants engage in a week of D.C. advocacy

By the National Potato Council and Joe Kertzman

U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden was so enthusiastic about meeting with Washington Summit attendees from Wisconsin that he took them on an impromptu tour of the Capitol Building and had them pose under his favorite agricultural saying by Daniel Webster. Painted over the door of Room H130 is an 1840 quote by Webster, “When Tillage Begins, Other Acts Follow. The Farmers Therefore are the Founders of Human Civilization.” Gathered below the saying are, from left to right, Joe Kertzman and Tamas Houlihan of the WPVGA; Nicola Carey, Wysocki Family of Companies; Wendy Alsum-Dykstra from Alsum Farms & Produce; Luke Schroeder, Schroeder Brothers Farms; Larry Alsum of Alsum Farms & Produce; Mark Finnessy, Okray Family Farms; Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Brothers Farms; and Jim Wysocki of Wysocki Family of Companies.

During the 2023 Washington Summit, February 27-March 3, U.S. potato growers and allied partners from across the country united as an industry to fulfill the National Potato Council’s (NPC’s) mission of “Standing Up for Potatoes on Capitol Hill.”

Flying to Washington, D.C. to advocate for issues vital to the success of Wisconsin potato growers were Larry Alsum and Wendy Alsum-Dykstra from Alsum Farms & Produce; Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Brothers Farms; Mark Finnessy, Okray Family Farms; Jim Wysocki from Wysocki Family of Companies; and Tamas Houlihan and Joe Kertzman of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA).

The WPVGA grower members and staff met with all 10 of Wisconsin’s members of Congress and their staffs to discuss issues affecting potato and vegetable farmers and advocate on their behalf.

Additionally, Luke Schroeder of Schroeder Brothers Farms and Nicola Carey, Wysocki Family of Companies, took part in the 2023 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) class, and later joined the Washington Summit group for Congressional visits and advocacy.

The 10-day PILI program, February 22-March 3, put on by the Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) provides an overview of the local and national potato industry, including challenges and issues beyond the production sector.

The PILI class enjoyed tours of local agriculture businesses while traveling through New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The Washington Summit provided a forum for potato industry members to discuss, define, and advocate for the policy priorities impacting their businesses and protecting their ability to farm.

The six NPC issue paper subjects that Washington Summit attendees discussed with Congressional leaders and staff included the U.S. Potato Industry Priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill; Immigration Reform; Government Over-Regulation; Proactive Trade Policies; the Nutritional Value of Potatoes; and Investing in U.S. Potato Industry Research.

Day one, on February 27, kicked off with NPC’s first-ever virtual media roundtable, during which NPC CEO Kam Quarles, Immediate Past President of the Board Jared Balcom, and Incoming President R.J. Andrus shared the news of the Council’s groundbreaking report “Measuring the Economic Impact of the U.S. Potato Industry.”

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