Americans Say PEI Potatoes Will Be Allowed ‘Soon’ in Mainland America

PEI Table Potatoes will soon be permitted in the continental United States under certain conditions, according to a press release issued Thursday by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will lift its ban on exporting table or ware potatoes from PEI, but not seed or processing potatoes.

“The USDA has determined that potatoes in Prince Edward Island intended for consumption only may be resumed under specified conditions that will present little risk of introduction of potato wart to United States,” the APHIS statement said.

Shipments of fresh potatoes to the US mainland were banned for months, following the discovery of potato wart in two fields on Prince Edward Island in October.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency halted potato shipments 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.

“The USDA bases all agricultural business decisions on sound science,” said US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “We are confident that table potatoes can enter the United States with proper safeguards in place to ensure the American potato industry remains protected.”

The United States will require that imports from Prince Edward Island, as well as the seed potatoes used to produce them, “come from fields not known to be infested with potato warts. potato or associated with known infestations,” the statement read.

Other conditions stipulate that PEI potatoes. have to be :

  • washed and peeled.
  • rated to meet US No. 1 standard.
  • officially inspected by the National Plant Protection Agency of Canada and certified to meet USDA requirements.

“APHIS will continue to work with Canada to build confidence in its long-term potato wart management plan, in particular to complete processing of remaining samples associated with recent detections, to expand surveillance of non-regulated fields in PEI. and to continue its national monitoring program. “, adds the press release.

Puerto Rico opened in February

Island farmers saw some relief last month when the border was opened to Puerto Rico, which is a major customer.

The US fresh potato market is worth about $120 million a year to PEI farmers. Unable to find markets for so many potatoes on short notice, farmers had to destroy an estimated 300 million pounds (136 million kilograms) of potatoes.

The potato wart was first discovered on the island in 2000, which also caused the border to close. A management plan was developed in consultation with the Americans, and that kept the border open for 20 years.