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Prince Edward Island Potato Board Response to Suspension of Exports to USA

Prince Edward Island Potato Board Response to Suspension of Exports to the USA

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board is shocked by the decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to suspend the certification of exports of all potatoes from Prince Edward Island to the United States of America.<br/><br/> The United States market represents a value of USD 120 million annually to the Prince Edward Island potato industry

Prevention of the spread of potato warts has been done under the auspices of the Long Term Potato Wart Domestic Management Plan, developed by CFIA to prevent spread both within the province and in market destinations for PEI potatoes.

Since the discovery of potato warts in PEI in 2000, there has not been a single incidence of potato warts in any markets, including the USA and the rest of Canada, attributable to Prince Edward Island potatoes. They have faith in this plan, and so should their government who developed it.

The two detections of potato warts in October 2021 were found in fields that were already under regulation as part of this Management Plan. As a result, those potatoes were already ineligible to be shipped to any market outside of Prince Edward Island, including the United States and Canada.

It is the understanding of the Potato Board that this suspension comes as a result of a request from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under threat of implementation of a federal order. Furthermore, the USDA’s basis for this action is predicated on feedback from a segment of the American potato industry, which is advocating for this suspension.

It is the understanding of the Potato Board that this suspension comes as a result of a request from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under threat of implementation of a federal order. Furthermore, the USDA’s basis for this action is predicated on feedback from a segment of the American potato industry, which is advocating for this suspension.

This is solely a politically-based trade disruption that will limit trade in a year when potatoes are already in short supply across North America and globally. These trade restrictions will undoubtedly lead to higher grocery store prices for American consumers due to a lack of available products in regions that depend on Prince Edward Island potatoes.

At a time when consumers are already facing rising food costs and food bank use has increased, trade restrictions based on political rather than scientific rationale are frustrating. In addition, it will lead to shortages of products 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 PEI potato farms and packing sheds.

There is negligible risk of spreading potato warts from the export of fresh potatoes, as existing trade regulations require potatoes originating from Prince Edward Island to be washed and treated with a sprout inhibitor. In addition, potato wart is of no risk to human health.

If this suspension of exports is not reversed, it will necessitate the destruction of hundreds of millions of pounds of high-quality fresh potatoes, as potatoes are a perishable crop that cannot be stored indefinitely until market access is reopened.

This presents not only an enormous waste of nutritious food but also a potential environmental issue related to product disposal. The volume of potatoes that PEI normally exports to the United States meets the fresh potato needs of approximately nine million Americans each year.

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board is calling for an immediate reversal of government-imposed restrictions on the movement of fresh potatoes. We call on representatives on both sides of the border to work without delay to resolve this issue.

Without an immediate reversal of this decision, there will be far-reaching economic consequences not only for Prince Edward Island potato producers but also on the provincial economy, other Canadian potato producers, retailers, and consumers.
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