North America, Seed, Trade/Markets/Prices

‘It’s grim’: Prince Edward Island seed potato growers worry restrictions may shutter markets for good

Terry Curley believes it’s gone for good. The co-owner of Monaghan Farms in Summerfield on Canada’s Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) had built a successful seed potato operation, growing as many as 60 per cent of the varieties used in Canada by the Frito-Lay chip company, as Stu Neatby reports for Saltwire.

However, he worries the province’s seed potato sector could be a casualty of the 2021 bruising stoppage of potato shipments to the U.S., following a handful of detections of potato wart. “The bottom line is seed sales have been reduced substantially off of P.E.I. And my opinion is that’s not coming back,” Curley said.

A ministerial order barring the export of fresh potatoes to the U.S. was lifted just over one year ago. But restrictions on seed potatoes, grown to be planted for future crops, remain in place, effectively barring shipments off-Island. There is no clear end date in sight for the lifting of these federal restrictions.

Today, Curley grows half the amount of seed potatoes that he would have two years ago. Most are destined for P.E.I. markets. “We were poised to do significantly more into other Canadian provinces. We were building up the seed for that market,” Curley said. “That’s all dead now. They just said, ‘We don’t want it at any price.’”

Source: Saltwire. Read the full story here
Photo: Prior to 2021, Barry Cudmore grew seed potatoes for garden centres across the Maritimes. The ongoing federal restrictions mean he is still shut out of off-Island markets. Credit Stu Neatby/SaltWire

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