P.E.I. potato farmers seek end to trade suspension, but U.S. officials want more data

·1 min read

FREDERICTON — Farmers on Prince Edward Island say there's no scientific basis for a suspension of exports of Island potatoes to the United States and it needs to be lifted now, but Canadian officials say the U.S. is demanding more information first.

Canada banned shipments of P.E.I. fresh potatoes to the U.S. in November following the discovery in two fields of potato wart — a fungus that poses no threat to human health but leaves the potatoes disfigured and can greatly decrease crop yield.

A news release issued by the federal agriculture minister's office last week says the U.S. also imposed its own suspension and Canada now must provide the technical data to reassure the Americans the potatoes are safe.

Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board says a survey conducted last fall across Canada showed no sign that potato wart had spread beyond the restricted fields in his province, and that should be enough to resume shipments valued at up to $120 million a year.

But officials in the federal minister's office say only 178 soil samples came from seed potato fields on the Island, while the U.S. is asking for thousands of samples — a process that could take until 2023.

A technical meeting between Canadian and American officials is set for Wednesday, while a new committee of federal politicians to deal with the issue will hold its first meeting Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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