Health/Nutrition/Food Safety, North America, Pests and Diseases, Studies/Reports

Canadian Potato Council provides perspective on USDA draft report regarding potato wart situation

The USDA has published a draft report for public consultation assessing pathways of introduction for potato wart from Canada into the United States. This report evaluates the likelihood of introduction of potato wart via seed potatoes, potatoes for consumption, and soil.

In a recent press release issued by the Canadian Potato Council, the industry body’s manager, David Jones says, “You may be aware of statements from industry stakeholders regarding the report that have raised your concerns about the movement of potatoes grown on Prince Edward Island (PEI). We wish to clarify the intent of the report and the basis upon which the pathway analysis was conducted.”

According to Jones, it is critical to understand that the report looks at potential ways potato wart could move into the US with minimal risk mitigation in place to prevent movement via those pathways.

He notes that USDA states in the report, “We did not consider any mitigation measures beyond minimal brushing and washing prior to export and visual inspection at ports of entry” and further on their consultation website page, “You will not find mitigations for pests shown in draft pest lists and risk assessments. Risk Management, including mitigations, is conducted after we receive stakeholder and country comments on each pest list or risk assessment.”

David Jones points out that land, soil and potatoes in PEI are regulated by the CFIA under a management plan that outlines the restrictions and surveillance activities for potato wart in order to reduce the risk of spread of potato wart and to protect potato production and trade.

The CFIA enforces restrictions on fields, depending upon risk, regarding crops grown, equipment movement/disinfection and requirements for soil testing, surveillance and monitoring. These measures directly mitigate the risk of movement of potato wart, and were not considered in the USDA report.

Jones notes that the April 2022 US Federal Order does include mitigation measures that have been implemented to address potato wart pathway risks and allowed the resumption of PEI potato exports to the US.

“The Canadian Potato Council is disappointed that some industry stakeholders have not been transparent and open regarding their communication of the USDA pathway report without context and disclosure that the analysis is based on minimal risk mitigation, or mention the two-step process that USDA follows in their risk assessment consultations,” David Jones says.

“Potato growers should be provided with accurate and fulsome information, without the intentional exclusion of key information that is essential to drawing meaningful conclusions.”

Source: Canadian Potato Council
Photo: Prince Edward Island potato field. Credit PEI Potato Board
Related: After USDA risk assessment, NPC urges increased protections to prevent Prince Edward Island potato wart spread

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