North America, Pests and Diseases, Trade/Markets/Prices

Potato wart: Government-Industry potato working group assembles to help affected farmers in Prince Edward Island

According to a press release issued by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Government of Canada is working with the Province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) and industry to support PEI farmers following the recent suspension of certification of fresh potatoes from PEI to the United States. The newly formed Government-Industry Potato Working Group met on Wednesday, November 24 for initial discussions.

AAFC says in the release that the Working Group brings together the full value-chain of the PEI potato sector to exchange information, develop strategies to determine and help mitigate impacts of potato wart on the sector, and identify potential short and long-term solutions to current trade disruptions. Its membership includes representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Global Affairs Canada, as well as representatives from the Government of Prince Edward Island, the PEI Potato Board, PEI seed and fresh potato growers, and key potato processors.

During the meeting, the CFIA outlined the steps they are taking to gather the scientific evidence needed to assure their U.S. counterpart agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), of the safety of trade of table and processing potatoes. The CFIA is aiming to conduct another round of technical discussions with APHIS next week.

The working group will continue to meet to assess the impacts on PEI potato farmers and those along the value chain, and is expected to examine all options to find end-point destinations for the sale and further processing of the existing stock of potatoes in PEI, and other measures to support affected farmers. The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, will attend the next meeting on Monday, November 29.

According to the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: “We must take a Team Canada approach in order to restore market access to the U.S. for PEI fresh potatoes. Until we can assure the United States of the safety of our potatoes, it is imperative we work together to seek all possible solutions to resolve this issue and limit impacts on our farmers. 

” The United States has made it very clear that if we restarted issuing export certificates right now, they would immediately sign a federal order that would have extremely damaging consequences for our farmers. I am confident that with the Potato Working Group, we will find our way through these challenges and get farmers the help they need.”

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Original release here
Photo: Credit REUTERS/Lars Hagberg
For further information:
Oliver Anderson, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 
oliver.anderson@agr.gc.ca
613-462-4327

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