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  • Time to permanently retire fields with potato wart, a Prince Edward Island legislative committee says
Time to permanently retire fields with potato wart, P.E.I. legislative committee says

On Nov. 21, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency imposed a ban on exports of P.E.I. potatoes to the United States and Puerto Rico after potato wart was found in two fields. It lasted until April 1. (Courtesy: Shane Hennessey / CBC)

Fields where potato wart has been found should be taken permanently out of any type of agricultural production, a P.E.I. legislative committee is recommending. It also suggests that trees be planted on the land, known as index fields.

Montague-Kilmuir MLA Cory Deagle, chair of the standing committee on natural resources and environmental sustainability, said the recommendation comes after eight meetings with farm leaders, provincial government representatives, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

In November, the CFIA imposed a ban on exports of P.E.I. potatoes to the United States and Puerto Rico after potato wart was found in two fields. The ban lasted until April 1, costing farmers millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Cory Deagle, PC MLA:
 
"We don't want this situation to happen again next year where, you know, we run into the same thing next fall."

"It's obviously complicated. It's not just as simple as, you know, take all those fields out of production."

"There's a lot of different issues that would have to be worked out in that. And I think everyone recognizes that."

"I think we all have the same goal that we obviously don't want our potato industry shut down again."
It's still unclear how the fields will be taken out of production. Deagle said it's important that farmers and farm leaders be consulted. With potato planting now underway in the province, there's nothing to stop the index fields from being put into production again this year.

The CFIA told the provincial committee that there have been discussions with the province on taking the fields out of "any types of agriculture production."

The provincial Department of Agriculture and Land agreed, saying it was moving toward that goal.
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