An agreement reached earlier this spring that would have seen Cavendish Farms receive $4.7 million from Prince Edward Island taxpayers to help store and transport processing potatoes will not be activated due to an uptake in restaurant sales. Andy Walker reports for peicanada.com.
The province pledged the money earlier this year after the closure of restaurants throughout North America resulted in millions of pounds of potatoes throughout the world being declared surplus by processing companies. When the PEI deal was finalized in March, there were approximately 100 million pounds of processing potatoes in storage. Figures released by United Potato Growers of Canada in mid-July showed that figure had been reduced to 3,725 hundredweight (417,000 pounds).
The program was to be administered by the PEI Potato Board and Cavendish Farms had until the end of the year to access the funds. During debate on budget estimates on the final day of the spring session, Opposition Agriculture and Land Critic Michele Beaton asked Finance Minister Darlene Compton for an update on how much money had been spent under the deal.
“My understanding is that the market was increasing so we might not need to use it at all,” Compton said.
Beaton said she was happy to hear that, noting he had recently spoken to an industry representative who told her french fry manufacturers were experiencing a rapid increase in demand and “they were frantic to buy stock from growers in order to meet that demand.” She wondered whether the money was now needed given the changing situation.