Press Releases

Simpson Joins House Appropriators in Preventing Biased Anti-Potato Rule

USDA Proposed Rule would have limited potatoes, corn, green peas and lima beans to one cup per week, rule not based on science and made no economic sense

Washington, June 16, 2011
USDA Proposed Rule would have limited potatoes, corn, green peas and lima beans to one cup per week, rule not based on science and made no economic sense

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 2112.  Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the bill and is extremely pleased with several provisions, including one that will prevent the USDA from forcing schools to limit servings of potatoes and other similar foods to one cup per week at the estimated increased cost of $6.8 billion over five years.

 “The USDA proposed rule would have been another completely unnecessary, unfunded mandate by the federal government,” said Simpson. “A medium potato contains over 200 milligrams more potassium than a banana and has as much fiber as a similar serving of broccoli.  Serving potatoes, corn, and green peas to our children in school lunches is not causing the obesity epidemic in America. This USDA rule was senseless, and, worse yet, it would have passed on the onerous costs to our schools who are trying desperately to make ends meet.”

Current school meal standards require that less than 30% of the calories be from fat, and less than 10% of the calories be from saturated fat. Potatoes are fat free, cholesterol free and low in calories.  Potatoes are sodium free, and low sodium diets help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. By eating one medium sized potato, you will receive 45% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C — a great antioxidant. Potatoes contain 18% of the recommended daily value of potassium — a great way to build stronger bones. The 3g of fiber in one medium-sized potato is 8% of the recommended daily value. 

Background:

On January 13, 2011, USDA issued the proposed rule, “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.”  This proposed rule would have mandated drastic changes to the school meal programs that would have incurred significant costs to all school districts. There would have been no federal funding provided for implementation of the rule, and USDA estimated that cost would have amounted to an increase of 50 cents per breakfast served and 14 cents for every lunch served, totaling $6.8 billion over five years.  According to the proposed rule, “small entities would incur roughly 80% of estimated costs.”  Due to the radical changes and extreme costs that would have been associated with the proposed rule, it is likely that considerable numbers of students and schools would have chosen not to participate in the school meal programs, especially school breakfast, had Congress allowed the rule to be implemented.  

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee included report language in subcommittee report for H.R. 2112, the FY12 Agriculture and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which directed USDA to issue a new proposed rule that will not incur increased costs.