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.
“I’m wondering that myself,” the finance minister replied. “The very big concern at the beginning of this was we had all these potatoes in warehouses across the Island and we wanted to make sure that farmers did not lose that supply and that they were processed and that we had a place to store them. The $4.7 million was put there to be a contingency for that.”
Agriculture and Land Minister Bloyce Thompson indicated “The latest update is that this money probably won’t be needed because of the situation. It won’t be needed in that sense but we are still in talks with the PEI Potato Board over the seed potato shortage – or the seed potato situation where a lot of seed potatoes were left on the table, so that money will likely go that direction.”
Source: Peicanada.com. Read the full article here