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Canada: $4.7M in funding will keep 40M kg of potatoes out of landfill, says P.E.I. govt

The P.E.I. government says its $4.7 million in funding for the potato industry will result in 40 million kilograms of Island potatoes being processed, rather than potentially going into landfill. Kerry Campbell of CBC News reports.

But one of the principal players in the three-way arrangement, processor Cavendish Farms, says it is still reviewing government announcements at this time. 

Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson announced the funding April 23, saying the money would pay for shipping and storage of potatoes from the 2019 growing season “to help mitigate the potato surplus because of the market conditions related to COVID-19.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Land told CBC News via email that as part of the arrangement, processor Cavendish Farms had agreed to process the 40 million kilograms of potatoes that didn’t have a market. 

The funding, administered through the P.E.I. Potato Board, is to be used to pay for the additional costs to ship and store the processed potatoes using off-Island storage facilities.

However on Tuesday, Mary Keith, spokesperson for Cavendish Farms, told CBC News via email that the company “has not committed to participate in or applied for any government COVID-19 funding programs in respect of agriculture. We are currently reviewing government announcements and have no further comment at this time.”

But general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, Greg Donald said the arrangement would benefit the entire industry — not just growers selling to Cavendish Farms, who will now have a market for these potatoes.

Donald said there was “no home” for up to 40 million kilograms of potatoes Island producers were still holding in storage from last season, grown under contract for Cavendish Farms which the company was now saying it couldn’t use.

Read the full, extensive report on the CBC Prince Edward Island website here
Picture: Courtesy My Island Bistro Kitchen

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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