Government-industry working group formed to resolve P.E.I. potato trade issues
November 30, 2021 By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Government of Canada is working with Prince Edward Island and industry to support P.E.I. farmers following the recent suspension of certification of fresh potatoes from P.E.I. to the United States. The newly formed Government-Industry Potato Working Group met on Wednesday, Nov. 24, for initial discussions.
The working group brings together the full value chain of the P.E.I. potato sector to exchange information, develop strategies to determine and help mitigate impacts of potato wart on the sector, and identify potential short- and long-term solutions to current trade disruptions. Its membership includes representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Global Affairs Canada, as well as representatives from the government of Prince Edward Island, the P.E.I. Potato Board, P.E.I. seed and fresh potato growers, and key potato processors.
During the meeting, the CFIA outlined the steps they are taking to gather the scientific evidence needed to assure their U.S. counterpart agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), of the safety of P.E.I. table and processing potatoes. The CFIA is aiming to conduct another round of technical discussions with APHIS next week.
“We must take a Team Canada approach in order to restore market access to the U.S. for P.E.I. fresh potatoes. Until we can assure the United States of the safety of our potatoes, it is imperative we work together to seek all possible solutions to resolve this issue and limit impacts on our farmers,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food.
“The United States has made it very clear that if we restarted issuing export certificates right now, they would immediately sign a federal order that would have extremely damaging consequences for our farmers. I am confident that with the Potato Working Group, we will find our way through these challenges and get farmers the help they need.”
The working group will continue to meet to assess the impacts on P.E.I. potato farmers and those along the value chain, and is expected to examine all options to find end-point destinations for the sale and further processing of the existing stock of potatoes in P.E.I., and other measures to support affected farmers. Bibeau will attend the next meeting on Monday, Nov. 29.
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