Senators arise for potatoes as a vegetable amid stories of USDA change

Fourteen senators are calling on the departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Companies (HHS) to maintain the potato labeled as a vegetable, amid reports {that a} joint advisory committee is contemplating “the interchangeability of starchy greens and grains.”

In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the senators on Tuesday made the case that the potato is a vegetable, not a grain, pointing to its dietary advantages, its bodily traits and its horticultural scientific classification.

“The scientific justification behind the assertion that potatoes aren’t greens just isn’t robust, and there are documented dietary advantages of potatoes. Due to this fact, we strongly oppose any reclassification of potatoes to the grain class below the DGAs,” the senators wrote.

The letter comes amid stories that the 2025 Dietary Tips Advisory Committee is “contemplating adjustments to meals teams,” together with “the interchangeability of starchy greens and grains,” in line with testimony from the Nationwide Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles.

The advisory committee is tasked with offering impartial, science-based suggestions to the USDA and HHS secretaries to assist inform their growth of the Dietary Tips for Individuals (DGA). The DGA is issued each 5 years and influences federal dietary and meals coverage.

A spokesperson for USDA mentioned in a press release that the advisory committee “just isn’t contemplating a change to the classification of potatoes,” noting IT “just isn’t inside the Committee’s purview to make such a change.”

Nonetheless, the stories have sparked considerations for a lot of within the potato business, which might take an financial hit if such a reclassification takes place.

In making the case for maintaining a potato a vegetable, the senators famous the sensible penalties that such a reclassification would have on meals packages and on the provision chains, saying a change “would instantly confuse shoppers, retailers, restaurant operators, growers, and all the provide chain.”

In addition they famous the affect on federal diet packages and college meals packages.

This isn’t the primary time that classification of greens and diet requirements for varsity meals have come below scrutiny. In 2011, when the USDA proposed a restrict of two servings of starchy greens per week, the potato business fought again, with the backing of senators from potato-growing states. The Senate authorised a measure blocking the USDA from imposing caps.

Equally, that 12 months, the USDA proposal mentioned tomato paste on pizza didn’t depend towards issuing limits to weekly vegetable consumption requirements, however the Senate fought again and authorised a measure to dam that proposal.

The letter on Tuesday was despatched by a bipartisan group, together with each senators from Colorado, Idaho, Maine, North Dakota and Oregon, together with Sens. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

The Hill has reached out to HHS for a response.

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