North America

Govt of Canada announces new measures to support Prince Edward Island potato industry

Prince Edward Island (PEI) has a long history of producing the highest quality potatoes for Canadians and international consumers. The Government of Canada will continue to stand up for Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato farmers, who are vital to their communities and the Canadian economy, according to a press release issued by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (CFIA) yesterday.

In the release, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, highlighted new measures to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the potato industry on Prince Edward Island.

“The potato is part of Prince Edward Island’s identity,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “The Government of Canada recognizes that the situation has been incredibly difficult for potato growers, their families and all industry stakeholders in the province. The reopening of the continental U.S. market for fresh potatoes is an important step that has given growers the predictability and assurance they need for the upcoming season. We know there is still work to be done and together, we will help ensure a stable future for the industry.”

Full market access for PEI potatoes to the United States

The Government of Canada is committed to restoring full market access for PEI potatoes to the United States and will continue to support potato growers as they head back to the fields and prepare for the upcoming growing season. Reopening the United States border for most PEI potato exports came at a critical time for the industry.

Minister Bibeau and her federal colleagues have been working tirelessly on this issue, and conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels to advocate for PEI’s potato industry, including a visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and several meetings with both Canadian and U.S. stakeholders.

Additional funding

As part of continued efforts to support the long term prosperity of PEI’s potato industry, Budget 2022 provides $28 million in additional funding. Including:

  • $16 million over two years, starting in 2022-23 to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to support long-term investments and assist in stabilizing the PEI potato sector and supply chain.
  • $12 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to accelerate the investigation into the latest detection of potato wart to help prevent its spread and to allow for full trade to resume with the U.S. as soon as possible.

The CFIA will use the funds to fill over 35 positions to accelerate the soil sampling and testing, including an expansion of current laboratory capacity. This will help maximize CFIA’s efficiency in completing the ongoing investigations related to the most recent findings identified in October 2021, which are targeted for completion in 2023.

Beyond the federal support allocated to PEI’s potato industry in Budget 2022, the Government of Canada has also provided a Stay of Default for 2021 outstanding potato advances. These have been granted to provide growers with additional flexibility to repay an estimated $20 million in advance payments.

Potato growers who received support from the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA) 2021 Advance Payments Program (APP) and are in good standing are eligible for the Stay of Default. Growers are encouraged to contact the PEIFA office as soon as possible for more details.

In addition, potato seed growers may also be eligible for compensation under the Potato Wart Compensation Regulations (PWCR). Compensation under these regulations is another tool to support growers.

PEI exports of fresh potatoes are vital to the Island’s economy, and to all of Canada. The Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring the long term prosperity of PEI’s potato industry for future generations to come.

“Since potato export restrictions were first announced, ACOA has sought to provide PEI potato producers with the supports and financial relief they needed to navigate this immense challenge. These new investments are another step toward full recovery and long-term sustainability for the industry,” says Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Original press release here
Photo: Courtesy PEI Potato Board

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