North America, Trade/Markets/Prices

Canada, U.S. officials to meet in bid to resolve potato ban dispute

Canadian and U.S. officials are scheduled to meet this week to see if progress can be made to end a dispute that resulted in Canada suspending all shipments of potatoes from Prince Edward Island to the United States.

Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will meet virtually with their American counterparts on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing trade dispute between Canada and the United States involving potatoes from Prince Edward Island.

As CBC News reports, the CFIA said in a statement officials plans to discuss “a path forward towards the resumption of trade of P.E.I. fresh potatoes.”

Exports of Prince Edward Island potatoes to the United States have been suspended since late November 2021 after the U.S. raised concerns about the potato wart fungus and threatened to ban shipments of the spuds if Ottawa did not act.

The CFIA statement says the focus of the meeting will be a national survey it conducted in the fall of 2021 of potato fields in Canada following the discovery of the wart fungus. “Soil samples were collected and tested from across Canada, including 178 samples from non-regulated seed potato fields in P.E.I. No potato wart was detected in any of the samples,” the statement said. 

That survey is separate from investigations also being conducted by the CFIA after inspectors found potato wart in two P.E.I. fields. The Canada-wide survey provides some additional information about the spread of potato wart in Canada, the CFIA statement said.

Meanwhile, thousands of Puerto Ricans have joined lobbying efforts aimed at resuming shipments of Prince Edward Island potatoes to the U.S. territory. As CBC News reports, Puerto Ricans are being encouraged via social media to send emails to the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Industry officials have said about 80 to 85 per cent of the potatoes sold in Puerto Rico traditionally come from Prince Edward Island.

Source: CBC News. Full story here
Photo: Bags of Prince Edward Island potatoes were brought to Ottawa on Dec. 8, 2021. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency imposed an export ban at the end of November to satisfy concerns raised by the U.S. over the discovery of potato wart in two P.E.I. fields.  Photo courtesy Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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