PEI government vows to fight against this wrong decision by the CFIA to stop potato exports to the US

Prime Minister Dennis King said the PEI government will consider all options at its disposal, including legal ones, to combat Canada’s Food Inspectorate’s suspension of fresh potato exports from the provincial to the US

King said the federal government‘s decision, sparked by the discovery of potato warts on two different island farms in October, was “extremely disappointing” and will hurt the island’s economy immensely.

“The impact of this decision is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars and will affect the lives of families from Tignish to Souris and everything in between,” he said at a news conference Monday.

“The potato industry is synonymous with the auto industry in Ontario, the forest industry in British Columbia, the oil and gas industry in Alberta, and for a Canadian minister to do that with the stroke of a pen in the face of good science and historical protocol, it is inconceivable.”

This is entirely a political trade disruption that will limit trade in a year when potatoes are already scarce.– PEI potato board

King said the province will aggressively negotiate “substantial” compensation with the federal government.

Meanwhile, the province will set up a $ 10 million emergency fund to meet island farmers’ immediate needs, including crisis management resources and assistance with all related costs related to the effects of potato warts, PEI said- Agriculture Secretary Bloyce Thompson.

Seed potato exports were suspended on November 2nd. In a press release on Monday, the CFIA announced that it had extended the ban to all fresh PEI potatoes.

The ban on potato exports from PEI to the US could mean that producers will have to destroy millions of kilograms of potatoes. (Shane Hennessey / CBC)

Potato warts disfigure potatoes and reduce their yield, making potatoes unsaleable but not dangerous to human health. The fungus is extremely tenacious and can take over 40 years to completely leave the ground.

Processed potatoes such as frozen French fries are exempt from the ban. Fresh potatoes must be brushed and washed before shipping to remove any soil that could carry the fungus. Seed potatoes are not allowed to be shipped outside the province.

“We have to work with the US”

CFIA said it took the action after the US told Canada that it would act if Canada does not take voluntary action.

Federal Agriculture Secretary Marie-Claude Bibeau said at an earlier press conference that a US federal regulation banning imports would go beyond what is necessary to reduce the risk of proliferation and that it would be much more difficult to reverse.

“To resume trading as soon as possible, we need to address the US with its concerns,” she said.

“We take a responsible approach based on science. It would provide the protection our industry needs during this difficult time.”

The minister said she asked the CFIA to “redouble” its efforts to work with the province and industry to curb the spread of potato warts on the island. The federal government also said it was working on a plan to help farmers affected by the US market shutdown

But King said Ottawa should have struggled to make sure Canada’s trade values ​​are “respected” by the US and that the suspension doesn’t follow science.

“How disappointing it was to hear the Federal Minister say publicly in a press conference today, as well as to me and [Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson] last night at least half a dozen times that their decision, which will potentially cripple our industry and tarnish our reputation around the world, will be made against acceptable science and protocol and, in their words, made to appease a trading partner. That’s not how trade relations work, “he said.

“Minister Bibeau said in her press conference today that PEI potatoes are of the highest quality and safe.

King said Bibeau did not provide a schedule for when the lockdown will be lifted.

The decision is made amid one of the best potato harvests in years.

‘Shocked’

The PEI Potato Board said it was “shocked” at the suspension and that a plan developed by the CFIA to prevent its spread in the province was already in place.

The board said exports to the US are valued at $ 120 million a year.

The CFIA’s decision to extend the US trade ban to all PEI potatoes “shocked and devastated” the island’s potato industry, said PEI Agriculture Secretary Bloyce Thompson. (CBC)

The fungus was said to have been found in fields already regulated under the plan so they are already ineligible for shipping outside of PEI

“Since the discovery of the potato wart in PEI in 2000, there has not been a single occurrence of potato warts attributed to potatoes from Prince Edward Island in any market, including the United States and the rest of Canada,” the board said in a press release.

The board said the restrictions were not what most US buyers and stakeholders would like.

“This is purely a political trade disruption that will restrict trade in a year when potatoes are already in short supply in North America and around the world,” it said, adding that the exposure could destroy millions of pounds of fresh potatoes.


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