The Government of Canada says in a press release it is “committed to restoring market access for PEI fresh potatoes to the United States and supporting PEI farmers impacted by trade disruptions.”
To that end, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced the creation of the new Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on PEI Potatoes with the objective of “enhancing coordination and collaboration across the federal government to respond to concerns and find solutions.”
According to the press release, the Committee will be an important forum to exchange information and further develop strategies to address the issue, while minimizing impacts of potato wart on the PEI potato sector. It will build on and complement the important work that has been done to date.
The Committee is said to examine a range of issues, such as updates on the technical discussions to provide scientific assurance to the United States, the delivery of programs to support farmers, the progress of the Industry-Government Potato Working Group, and advocacy efforts to access international markets. The first meeting will take place next week.
The Committee will be co-chaired by Minister Bibeau and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Members of the Committee include: the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development; and the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.
On November 22, the United States Department of Agriculture instructed their border services to reject any shipment of seed, table and processing potatoes from PEI. The United States has requested clear scientific data on CFIA’s investigation of the recent potato wart detections, clear risk mitigation measures, and an ongoing monitoring plan for clearly-defined quarantined areas. While the CFIA is currently redoubling their efforts to gather the requested information in order to reassure the United States, they cannot certify PEI potatoes as they do not meet US requirements in accordance with the plant protection regulations.
Since then, the Government has: created an Industry-Government Potato Working Group; announced up to $28 million in funding to help manage surplus potatoes; made important adjustments to the AgriStability program; completed the national survey for potato wart ahead of schedule; and conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels to resolve this issue.
“It is a top priority for our Government to reopen the American border for PEI fresh potatoes and support the farmers affected by this difficult situation. For many weeks already, my cabinet colleagues and I have joined efforts to ensure all options are explored. The formal creation of this committee helps build upon the work we are doing together across Government,” according to Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development said: “PEI’s exports of fresh potatoes are vital to the Island’s economy, and to all of Canada. I will work with my Canadian colleagues and my international counterparts to resume trade as quickly as we can. I have pushed for science-based safe trade of PEI fresh potatoes with my United States counterpart and key leaders at every opportunity and will continue to do so.”
Source: Government of Canada. Original release here