North America, Trade/Markets/Prices

Border closure shocks Prince Edward Island potato industry

Karla Veinot is one of many farmhands across Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) on the east coast of Canada who were rocked by news of the US border closing to fresh potato exports from the Island. The single mom of two children has been working for Power Farms in Elliotvale for about eight years, and now her job is anything but secure. Ms Veinot, who lives in Savage Harbour, said she was “shocked and angry” upon hearing the news November 22. Josh Lewis reports for The Eastern Graphic.

“It’s been emotional,” she said. “The science is there to show (the decision was wrong). It seemed very political.” She’s worked in the potato industry for much of her life, and has family members who have worked in all aspects of the agriculture industry. This time of year, she’s mostly on the grader.

“What’s going to happen, we’re not sure. It’s just a week-to-week thing now.” Frank Power, one of the owners, said layoffs haven’t happened yet but are inevitable. The farm has 11 employees. “Four weeks before Christmas and all our staff is getting a slap in the face. It’s quite an insult,” he said. “I don’t have any work for them.”

The vast majority of their fresh spuds go to the eastern seaboard of the US, which means they have nearly 15 million pounds sitting in their warehouses. “I have every warehouse possible full right to the doors,” Mr Power said. “The last time we went through this (with potato wart) was pure hell in 2001. There’s enough stress in this business when things are going well, let alone what was shoved in our faces here.”

Source: The Eastern Graphic. Full story here
Photo: The Eastern Graphic

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