Potato board urges quick, collaborative response to save potato farmers
CHARLOTTETOWN, PE, Nov. 25, 2021 /CNW/ – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board, on behalf of its more than 175 members, urges all Canadians to work together to protect potato farmers in the wake of the decision earlier this week by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to suspend potato exports from the island to its longstanding U.S. customers and partners.
“Each year, our hard-working farmers, supported by their network of partners, deliver more than 270 million pounds of fresh and wholesome potatoes to the U.S.,” says Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board. “Over the past 20 years, there has not been a single incidence of potato wart – in any market – attributable to Prince Edward Island potatoes. We have faith in our potatoes, and so does everyone, even the minister of agriculture herself.”
The P.E.I. potato industry is worth more than $1.3 billion to the island’s economy annually. It employs more than 5,000 people directly or indirectly. The U.S. market represents a value of $120 million to the Prince Edward Island potato industry, also annually.
“Our potatoes feed an estimated nine million people each year in the U.S.,” says Donald. “At a time when consumers are already facing rising food costs and food bank use has increased, trade restrictions with no scientific rationale are not good for anyone – farmers, retailers or consumers. Our message to the CFIA and our U.S. trade partner is ‘let our potatoes go.'”
The P.E.I. Potato Board is calling for an immediate reversal of government-imposed restrictions on the movement of fresh potatoes. It calls on representatives on both sides of the border to resolve this issue promptly.
- Potato wart was first discovered in P.E.I. in 2000, and for over 20 years globally accepted management protocols have been in place. With this, there has never been a single incidence of potato wart in any markets, including the U.S.A. and the rest of Canada attributable to Prince Edward Island potatoes.
- This past October, under strict standard safety protocols, there were two detections of potato wart in fields that were already under surveillance as part of this Management Plan. These potatoes were not going to be shipped to any market, including the United States or other Canadian province.
- Potato wart is of no risk to human health. It only affects the appearance and marketability of potatoes.
- Existing trade regulations require potatoes originating from P.E.I. to be washed and treated with a sprout inhibitor. This makes the risk of spreading potato wart negligible.
- These trade restrictions will undoubtedly lead to higher grocery store prices for American consumers due to a lack of available product in regions that depend on Prince Edward Island potatoes. In addition, it will lead to shortages of product for some processing facilities, with the potential for lay-offs to follow.
- Closer to home, there will undoubtedly be lay-offs and other economic impacts on P.E.I. potato farms, trucking companies and packing sheds if this is not reversed soon.
SOURCE Prince Edward Island Potato Board