"I’ve said this many times before, but it is worth saying again: a safety net must be written with bad times in mind. A farm bill should not guarantee that the good times are the best, but rather that the bad times are manageable." - Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, addressing his colleagues in October 2013 at the reopening of discussions on the half-completed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) bill. The completed part of the bill affects the safety net for the producers of food; i.e., farmers. The uncompleted part affects the safety net of the consumers of food; i.e., food stamps. Read here for history of this issue.
December 23, 2013: Libby A. Nelson in Politico's Morning Education runs the tip: Tucked away in the [House of Representatives] 701-page [FARRM] bill is a provision that would add potatoes to the list of foods mothers can purchase in the Women, Infants and Children [WIC] food package. White potatoes are currently the only fresh fruit or vegetable not part of the program, according to Mark Szymanski of the National Potato Council. The potato lobby has been working to change this for years, both in Congress and through the Department of Agriculture. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is opposing the change, and [November 20] sent a letter (below) to legislators on the topic.[emphases ours]
Dear Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson:
... As the Senior Democratic Member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the WIC program, I believe it is inappropriate for the FARRM bill to address issues related to WIC...The WIC program is due for reauthorization in 2015 and any related federal policy changes would appropriately be addressed through that process... The FARRM bill has no jurisdictional coverage of WIC in its titles, and making a significant policy change to WIC in the FARRM bill without the input of the committee of reference members would deny fair and comprehensive consideration of these critical issues for such a vulnerable population.
By law, WIC is a supplemental nutrition program that is intended to provide foods with nutrients that are lacking in WIC recipients ' diets. Because potatoes are widely consumed, they do not need to be supplemented by WIC, which with its limited funds, needs to promote a variety of fruits and vegetables with important nutrients... White potatoes already account for nearly 27 percent of vegetables eaten by 2 and 3 year olds, according to the 2008 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study. For that reason, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that white potatoes be excluded from the WIC food package: young children already eat sufficient amounts of them. Adding white potatoes to the WIC food package would displace other more nutritious vegetables....
Decisions about limited federal resources for low-income women and their infants and toddlers' nutritional needs should not be made in the context of legislation focused on how to assist producers, where those political and policy dynamics may easily trump careful consideration of women and children's health issues...
The FAARM bill negotiations will resume in January, when members of Congress have return from the holy feast days to once again debate over how much to cut from SNAP (food stamps). Also in January, the National Potato Council will hold its annual Potato Expo (January 8-11 in San Antonio), where, among other issues, comedian Ben Stein will tell them "how to balance life's priorities."
Above, the mash, featured in Joanna Born's "Fashion Tips from Potatoes,"(BuzzFeed).