The detection of a potato wart led the border to be closed.
The federal government is still working to address a situation that has prevented fresh P.E.I. potatoes from entering the United States, but Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says she can’t promise a resolution by Christmas.
“It’s extremely difficult to know,” Bibeau remarked.
“We’re putting forth a lot of effort to get more information and share it with the Americans.”
Following the detection of potato warts in two P.E.I. fields last Monday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ordered the border to be closed. According to Bibeau, Canada acted to prevent American action that would have been more difficult to reverse.
A fungus causes potato warts. It disfigures potatoes and renders them unmarketable, but it poses no health risk.
In the year 2000, the potato wart was discovered on the island for the first time. Following the closure of the border in that year, a management plan was devised in collaboration with the U.S. Cleaning potatoes to prevent infected soil from being exported and spraying potatoes with sprout inhibitors to prevent diseased potatoes from propagating is also part of the plan. Infected farms are also quarantined, meaning that no fresh potatoes from those fields leave P.E.I.
The ban, according to both Bibeau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is not founded on research.
“It’s safe to ship fresh potatoes,” Bibeau remarked.
“[With the Americans], it’s a science-based conversation.] We need to show that our fresh potatoes are safe to eat. It’s a question of risk tolerance.”
Mary Ng, the federal minister of international trade, conducted a virtual meeting with Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative.
Ng brought up a number of topics, including P.E.I. potatoes. They also discussed what Canada sees as protectionist tactics in a plan for electric vehicle tax rebates and a duty increase on Canadian softwood timber.
Farmers on Prince Edward Island say every week the border remains closed is a huge loss. Potato sales are generally particularly strong in the weeks coming up to Christmas.