Exports of ware potatoes from Prince Edward Island to the United States resume immediately.
On Friday, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) changed its requirements for importing table potatoes from Prince Edward Island. .
The news follows an announcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency last week that the agency would lift its ban on exporting table or eating potatoes from PEI .
The Minister of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau, spoke with Main Street host Matt Rainnie on Friday afternoon shortly after the news broke.
“It’s good news for our table potatoes to see the market open up for the American continent,” said Bibeau.
“The potato industry is so important, it’s part of your identity…when you can see [potatoes] leaving the island and going to the United States is going to be great.”
Farmers on the island said around 300 million pounds of potatoes are expected to be destroyed this winter.
Friday’s announcement also means bags shipped to Puerto Rico will no longer have to be labeled, Bibeau said, and shipments are no longer limited in size.
“We can now ship these potatoes in bins, or in bulk as well, so that’s good news for…farmers on the island.”
Seed potato exports are still not expected to resume until 2023. Bibeau said the investigation is ongoing and Ottawa will continue to work with seed growers to see how they can be supported in the interim.
“It’s extremely difficult for seed growers, but let’s take the good news for table stock growers today,” she said.
“Seed potatoes are for planting, so the risk to them is greater – that’s why we need to complete the investigation. We will continue to work closely together, see how we can support them in terms of loss of last year and also see what opportunities they may have and how we can support you… we will work together to find a clear path forward.”
The CFIA said last week that the United States would require that PEI potatoes, as well as the seed potatoes used to produce them, “come from fields that are not not known to be infested with potato warts or associated with known infestations”.
Other conditions stipulate that PEI potatoes. have to be :
- Washed and crushed.
- Rated to meet US Standard #1.
- Officially inspected by Canada’s National Plant Protection Organization and certified to meet USDA requirements.
Shipments of fresh potatoes to the United States and its territory of Puerto Rico, and possibly the rest of Canada, have been suspended following the discovery of potato warts in two fields on the island in October.
The CFIA halted shipments of seed and table potatoes to the United States in November, prompted by a US threat that it would act if Canada did not. Canadian officials feared that a U.S. action would be harder to reverse.
Wart is a fungus that disfigures potatoes so they are unsaleable and reduces yields, but poses no risk to human health.
The PEI Potato Board estimates the trade with the United States would have been $120 million this season.