PE Ledger

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Yet no precise timeline for reopening the U.S. mainland to P.E.I. potatoes


Key takeaways: 

  • Growers state planning for spring planting season is a significant challenge amidst export delay.
  • It’s assessed Island farmers have been left with 300 million pounds of potatoes they can’t deal with because of the U.S. export embargo. 

U.S. export veto leaves farmers concerned: 

Island potato farmers tell they’re getting impatient as spring planting season comes. They persist in waiting on a precise timeline for reopening the United States border to P.E.I. spuds. 

SINCE LATE NOVEMBER, the U.S. market has been shut to P.E.I. potatoes, following the finding of potato warts in two Island fields. 

“It’s incomprehensible that we don’t have an answer,” stated Boyd Rose, a potato farmer, and packer in eastern P.E.I. “Farmers are attempting to make judgments regarding what they’re doing in the spring and how many potatoes to destroy. It’s past frustrating.”

Two weeks ago, after imports to Puerto Rico continued, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said she was happy the mainland U.S. could follow the case in weeks. 

Bibeau now states it may be as late as March 10th before American officials complete their threat assessment and choose. 

Also read: Port Charlottetown is prepared for cruise ships to arrive in

US imposes a ban on PEI potatoes

“Their regulatory agency is moving with their risk research with all the data we have been providing,” stated Bibeau.

“So we’re still convinced that with all the phytosanitary measures associated with our table stock potatoes, we’re still very optimistic that they will arrive at the same decision as us and reopen the mainland of the United States.”

Defacement deadline endangering 

Island farmers have till the end of February to eradicate unsold potatoes because of the U.S. export veto and qualify for government compensation for the lost sales. 

“So there’s tension with the previous season’s crop that many still have in the warehouse and what to do with that. They’re faced with a deadline of next week,” stated Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board. 

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