North America, Trade/Markets/Prices

P.E.I. potato farmers seek end to trade suspension, but U.S. officials want more data

Farmers on Prince Edward Island say there’s no justification for a suspension of exports of Island potatoes to the United States and it needs to be lifted now, but Canadian officials say the U.S. is demanding more information, according to the Canadian Press.

“It’s our own government that has the suspension in place. We need that suspension lifted,” P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald said in an interview Tuesday. “There’s no science that says our fresh potatoes cannot go.”

Canada banned shipments of P.E.I. fresh potatoes to the U.S. on Nov. 22 following the discovery of potato wart in two fields.

“We are in week eight,” Donald said. “We are at approximately the $20-million mark in terms of lost business to the U.S. Our growers are getting extremely anxious and frustrated that there hasn’t been a resolution yet.”

At the time of the suspension, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said if Canada had not issued the suspension voluntarily, the Americans would have imposed their own ban. A news release issued by the minister’s office last week says the U.S. is blocking imports and Canada must provide the technical data to show the potatoes are safe.

A technical meeting between the CFIA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is set for Wednesday to discuss the situation, but officials in the minister’s office say it could take until 2023 to provide all the information the United States is requesting.

The industry estimates exports of fresh P.E.I. potatoes to the U.S. this year would have been worth about $120 million.

Source: Canadian Press. Read the full story here
Author: Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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