From the federal docket, the National Potato Council's take on changes to potato grade standards...

NATIONAL POTATO COUNCIL
1300 L Street, NW, Suite 910
Washington, DC 20005

June 1, 2010
Standardization and Training Section
Fresh Products Branch
Fruit and Vegetable Programs
Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA
National Training and Development Center
Riverside Business Park
100 Riverside Parkway, Suite 101
Fredericksburg, VA 22406
RE: Doc. No. AMS-FV-08-0023

The following comments to the proposed rule for United States Standards for Grades of Potatoes published in the Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 83, Friday April 30, 2010 are filed on behalf of the National Potato Council (NPC). The National Potato Council represents more than 90 per cent of the potato growers in the United States. The NPC was organized in 1947 to provide a unified voice for potato growers in all growing regions on legislative and regulatory issues impacting the potato industry.We believe that the inclusion of provisions that allow packing of mixed varieties in the U.S. No. 1 grade is an appropriate change as it applies to varieties of different colors. Packers will be allowed to pack varieties of different colors in a single pack to meet the demand from consumers while continuing to provide information to the consumer on the quality of the product when the product meets U.S. No. 1 designation.

Based on input received from a variety of growers and packers, the proposed changes for tolerances for permanent defects are unnecessary and will result in more confusion rather than clarity. The existing tolerances provide the inspectors the ability to take into account changes in the identification of permanent defects at origination and destination using the existing standards and guidelines.  Growers in the potato industry do not support including language in the sprout scoring guide that would make the determinations of defects due to sprouting more subjective. In our opinion inserting the language, “or have numerous individual and/or clusters of sprouts which materially detract from the appearance of the potato” would make the current standard significantly more subjective and lead to conflict and confusion in the supply chain.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide these comments for the record on the proposed rule.

Sincerely,

John Keeling
Executive Vice President and CEO