March 02, 2005

Delegation Promotes Potatoes For Iraq Relief

Sends letter to USDA and USAID urging use of potatoes for effort

For Immediate Release:CRAIG: 202-224-8078May 13, 2003CRAPO: 202-224-5150SIMPSON: 208-334-1953OTTER: 208-336-9831 DELEGATION PROMOTES POTATOES FOR IRAQ RELIEF Sends letter to USDA and USAID urging use of potatoes for effort WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho's Congressional Delegation today urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to consider using dehydrated potatoes for food relief efforts in Iraq. Twenty-six members of the House and Senate representing 12 States signed the letter from the Congressional Potato Caucus. Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, and Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter all are founding members of the Potato Caucus.â??The U.S. has a steady supply of quality dehydrated potatoes that could be immediately available to the USDA and USAID to be included in the food aid basket for short-term humanitarian assistance. Over the near to long term, the U.S. can be a supplier of potatoes for fresh consumption and seed while Iraq rebuilds its potato production and storage capacity,â?? wrote the Idaho Delegation.The Idaho Delegation's letter also stressed the nutritional value of dehydrated potatoes and the ease of use in situations such as Iraq. â??Dehydrated potatoes are ideal for international food assistance. They are nutritious, economical to transport and easy to store and prepare. They have a long shelf life and need only potable or boiled water to rehydrate. Dehydrated potatoes are very cost-efficient to transport and cook, and a serving can be provided for just a few cents.â??The people of Iraq have traditionally produced and consumed potatoes. The political situation has resulted in the significant reduction in the availability of potatoes in Iraq. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), potato production dropped over 50% from a high of 418,479 metric tons (MT) in 1994 to 200,000 MT in 2000. Imports declined from 45,848 MT in 1994 to just 15,867 MT in 2000. Iraq is a country with a cultural history of consuming potatoes but currently has no means for producing them at the level that would satisfy demand. â??This is a monumental task, and we believe the U.S. potato industry is well positioned to contribute to this endeavor, in the short term and over the long term. We look forward to working with you and your team to evaluate the role of U.S. potatoes and potato products in meeting the nutritional needs of the people of Iraq,â?? concluded the Idaho Delegation.# # # # #