Minister optimistic P.E.I. potato shipments to Puerto Rico could resume soon

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Published January 28, 2022 at 12:57 pm

FREDERICTON — The federal agriculture minister is optimistic the United States could approve the resumption of shipments of Prince Edward Island potatoes to Puerto Rico within weeks. 

Marie-Claude Bibeau and Island MP Lawrence MacAulay met with U.S. officials in Washington Thursday to discuss the ban imposed by Canada on exports of the potatoes in November following the discovery of potato wart in two P.E.I. fields.    

The fungal parasite spreads through the movement of infected potatoes, soil and farm equipment and poses no threat to human health but leaves the potatoes disfigured and can greatly decrease crop yields.  

Bibeau says American officials have agreed to look at Canada’s mitigation measures and make a decision on shipments of table-stock potatoes to Puerto Rico — where potatoes are not farmed — in the next week or two, followed by a decision on shipments to the continental United States.  

She said in an interview today the investigation into seed potatoes will take longer and will involve the examination of about 35,000 soil samples.

Greg Donald, general manager of the PEI Potato Board, says the ban is in its 10th week and losses to farmers are around $25 million dollars so far, but yesterday’s meeting has provided a glimmer of hope.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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