The United States Department of Agriculture will keep the potato classified as a vegetable rather than a grain following a bipartisan effort from Maine’s congressional delegation to retain the potato’s current vegetable classification.

“The reclassification of potatoes would have sent a false message to the public that the USDA believes that potatoes are not healthy,” said Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a news release following the decision by the USDA. “The fact is, when prepared properly the potato is a wonderfully nutritious food that is affordable, easy to transport, has a long storage life and can be used in a wide array of recipes.”

Potatoes are harvested in Oct. 2023 at Bell Farms Inc. in Lewiston. The United States Department of Agriculture will keep the potato classified as a vegetable rather than a grain. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The USDA is currently in the yearslong process of updating its dietary guidelines for Americans.

The dietary guidelines under review would be effective from 2025 to 2030.

In response to fears that the independent committee reviewing the dietary guidelines might move potatoes from the vegetable to the grain category, congressional leaders from around the country including Collins and the rest of the state’s delegation – Sen. Angus King, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District and Rep. Jarden Golden D-2nd District – sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra voicing their opposition to the potential reclassification.

“Since the inception of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it has classified potatoes correctly as a vegetable. There is not debate about the physical characteristics of the potato and its horticultural scientific classification,” wrote Collins, King and 12 other senators in their letter.


“If potatoes were to be reclassified, consumers would miss out on vital nutrients,” they later said.

Pingree, Golden and 27 other members of Congress in their separate letter said that the reclassification would “call the scientific credibility of the entire process into question.”

Potatoes are high in vitamin C and potassium, are a good source of vitamin B6, fiber, minerals and micronutrients.

Maine is among the top 10 potato-growing states in the country, planting 53,000 acres in 2023 and harvesting 17.8 million pounds worth $292 million, according to the USDA.

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