Export ban, not potato wart, is the more pressing issue, says P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture

·2 min read
Donald Killorn, executive director with the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture, says the detection of potato wart in a field last week is 'by no means indicative of us being infested with potato wart.' (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
Donald Killorn, executive director with the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture, says the detection of potato wart in a field last week is 'by no means indicative of us being infested with potato wart.' (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

The detection of potato wart in a field on P.E.I. last week is no reason for concern, says the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture.

Donald Killorn said it has no impact on the safe export of food from P.E.I. to Canada and the rest of the world.

"It's by no means indicative of us being infested with potato wart. We do have fields on Prince Edward Island in which there are potato ward spores. This detection was basically across the road from a field that we already knew to have potato wart that would have been subject to our existing potato wart management plan."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has analyzed thousands of soil samples since it was first detected last October, resulting in CFIA banning potato shipments to the U.S. in November 2021.

This shows that we have potato wart well under control and that our existing management is satisfactory. — Donald Killorn

Table potato shipments resumed in April, but seed potatoes, which make up about 10 per cent of the Island's annual output, are still banned in the U.S. and the rest of Canada, pending the outcome of a more thorough investigation.

"We have no concerns about the quality of the food we're growing on Prince Edward Island," Killorn said. "This shows that we have potato wart well under control and that our existing management is satisfactory."

Effect on farmers

The bigger issue, he said, is the ongoing export ban on seed potatoes, which extends to any crops that have soil on them, such as carrots, onions and turnips, and the economic effect it's having on farmers.

Last week's discovery was the fourth time potato wart has been found since October.

"Our members are not concerned about the impact of this," Killorn said.

"We're concerned with the ability of CFIA to manage our trade relations, and we believe that all this shows is that we have healthy soil, we're growing the best food in the world and our federal government should be helping us get it to market instead of what they're doing today."

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