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Collins, Bennet Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling for Potatoes to Remain Classified as Vegetables

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Michael Bennet (D-CO) led a bipartisan group of 14 Senators in writing to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra in opposition to any reclassification of potatoes as a grain instead of a vegetable during the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) process.

According to a 2013 National Library of Medicine study, potatoes “should be included in the vegetable group because they contribute critical nutrients. All white vegetables, including white potatoes, provide nutrients needed in the diet and deserve a prominent position in food guides.”

“Since the inception of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it has classified potatoes correctly as a vegetable,” the group of Senators wrote. “There is no debate about the physical characteristics of the potato and its horticultural scientific classification. Unlike grains, white potatoes are strong contributors of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber.”

“Any change to potatoes’ current classification under the DGAs would immediately confuse consumers, retailers, restaurant operators, growers, and the entire supply chain,” the Senators continued. “We strongly urge you to avoid reclassifying potatoes as a grain or suggest grains and potatoes are interchangeable. Given the rapid timeline that the DGAs are on, we ask that you provide us an update on this issue as soon as possible.”

Joining Senators Collins and Bennet in sending the letter to USDA and DHHS were Senators James Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Angus King (I-ME), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

The full letter can be read here.