Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), announced that the United States has agreed to resume imports of Prince Edward Island (PEI) table stock potatoes into Puerto Rico starting tomorrow.
In a press release, AAFC says: “The Government of Canada has been taking a science-based approach with the United States to provide the necessary assurances that would allow for the resumption of trade for PEI’s high-quality fresh potatoes.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working with industry to implement the import requirements for Puerto Rico, including labelling and traceability.
“Resuming exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico is an important step in restoring market access for PEI,” the Minister says. “This issue has touched the lives of so many Islanders, from multi-generational family farms, to packers, processors, shippers, and more. Today, PEI’s hard working farmers can finally feel some sense of relief knowing their high quality potatoes will start moving again for export. We know there is more work ahead, and that is why we will continue to engage with our American partners on a science-based approach to further restore trade for PEI table stock potatoes to all the continental United States.”
Resuming exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico is an important step in restoring U.S. market access for PEI. In 2020, PEI’s exports of table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico were valued at $12 million. Exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico represent a negligible risk for the transmission of potato wart, given that Puerto Rico does not produce commercial potatoes and that there are strong and effective risk mitigation measures in place.
In addition, PEI potatoes are an important staple for many families throughout Puerto Rico given their high quality and affordability.
The United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is also currently working expeditiously on their analysis for importing PEI table stock potatoes to the continental United States. The CFIA continues to have regular technical discussions with APHIS to provide the necessary scientific data and information to resume trade.
According to the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence: “The United States re-opening access to Puerto Rico is good news for our potato growers, and good news for Prince Edward Island. It has been an incredibly difficult few months, and this is a vitally important first step to resuming trade. We have been doing everything we can to get our world-class potatoes moving back across the border, and we’ll keep fighting to restore access to the rest of the US market.”