Members of the potato industry interested in attending the National Potato council’s annual trip to Capitol Hill have until Feb. 2 to take advantage of cost-saving early registration for the Feb. 21 to March 1 event.

Early birds will get $100 off the $395 registration fee and a special hotel rate of $231 if they make reservations by Feb. 2, according to the NPC’s website. Complete details are available at on the Internet.

The NPC renamed the annual event for this year, calling it the Potato D.C. Fly-In. It is open to all growers and other potato industry leaders. Face-to-face meetings with congressional representatives, senators, Capitol Hill staff and members of regulatory agencies are scheduled.

Topics on this year’s agenda include:

  • Free trade agreements that would open markets for potatoes in Colombia, Panama and South Korea;
  • Retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, including potatoes, by the government of Mexico;
  • The 2012 Farm Bill; and
  • An update on 2012 congressional elections.

According to NPC officials, the 2011 event attendees provided real-world examples of how decisions made in Washington, D.C., impact local businesses, economies and jobs. Their efforts gave decision makers a clear understanding of the industry’s priorities on prominent issues such as the role of potatoes in the school lunch program.