WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN – With the end of the government shutdown, many in the Ag community expressed excitement that the 2018 Farm Bill would finally start to be implemented. However, for area potato growers, the Farm Bill doesn’t have the biggest impact. Chris Voigt, executive Director of the Washington state Potato Commission said their hope is the Ag Appropriations bill will soon be approved.
“Because if it does, that means additional dollars for potato breeding here in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest, as well as a new research facility, a new building, at the WSU campus. We need more plant science laboratories to really be competitive in this global market.”
Voigt acknowledge while not the priority, the Farm Bill is important. Another hot topic in D.C. is the approval of USMCA. Voigt said NAFTA was great for the potato industry, pushing Mexico up to the #3 market. So, as long as a trade deal is on the books, potato growers will be happy.
“If they do away with NAFTA, and don’t approve the new USMCA then that’s a huge problem for us, because all of a sudden we’re losing our #3 market in the world and that’s a big concern. But, if we revert back to the old NAFTA, we’re good with that, if we’ve got the new NAFTA, we’re good with that too.”
Voigt said thanks to strong overseas demand for U.S. potatoes, he is encouraged about the year ahead.