Minister Bibeau announces $28 million to support Prince Edward Island potato producers impacted by trade disruptions
December 20, 2021 – Ottawa, ON – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Today, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $28 million in funding to support Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato farmers affected by trade disruptions. The Government of Canada is taking a Team Canada approach and working collaboratively with the Province of PEI and industry to support potato growers and resume full market access for PEI fresh potatoes.
This funding of up to $28 million will be used to support the diversion of surplus potatoes, including help to redirect surplus potatoes to organizations addressing food insecurity and support for the environmentally-sound disposal of surplus potatoes. It will also support marketing activities and will help industry to develop long-term strategies to manage future challenges.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will work with the Government of PEI, the PEI Potato Board, national food bank organizations and other stakeholder groups to deliver the funding. Details on how producers can access support will be available through the coming weeks.
Producers also have access to a suite of other Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage issues. The Governments of Canada and PEI recently made adjustments to the AgriStability program, which protects producers against large declines in farming income, so that producers who did not enroll for the 2021 program year can sign-up now and still access this important income support. Furthermore, AgriStability interim payments have increased, so that producers can now apply for up to 75% of their anticipated payment, up from 50%.
The Government of Canada stands firmly on the science that indicates that the risks associated with the transmission of potato wart from fresh potatoes remains negligible when appropriate risk mitigation measures are in place. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will continue to make science-based data and details of its investigation into the October 2021 detections available to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to highlight the strengths of Canada’s Potato Wart Domestic Long Term Management Plan. Soil sampling and soil testing processes are taking place as quickly as possible.
While this work is underway, important collaboration continues through the Government-Industry Potato Working Group. It brings together key stakeholders of the PEI potato sector to exchange information, help mitigate impacts of potato wart on the sector, and identify potential short and long-term solutions to current trade disruptions. Fred Gorrell has been asked to be the new co-chair of the Potato Working Group. Mr. Gorrell is very well known within the sector and comes with years of experience as a former Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and leader of the Market Access Secretariat.
“Our government understands the importance of potatoes for Prince Edward Island’s economy. Many families’ livelihoods depend on this industry. Islanders are proud of their high quality potatoes, so much so that it is a part of their identity. We share that pride, and with our Team Canada partners, we are doing all that is in our power to re-open the American market and support producers.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“Our potatoes on Prince Edward Island are the best you’ll find anywhere in the world, and the folks involved in the potato industry here are some of the finest you could ever hope to meet. As a former potato grower myself, I understand just how tough this situation is on them. Our government is going to be there for them every step of the way, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to get our PEI potatoes back to market in the United States. Today’s announcement is a vital step in supporting our potato growers through this difficult time.”
- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, Member of Parliament for Cardigan
“Collaboration between federal, provincial, and industry leaders is essential to supporting the PEI potato industry during this tremendously difficult time. We have to be in this together, working towards the goal of resuming trade and securing the prosperity of our industry. Resolving this situation is of utmost importance. We will continue to seek all possible solutions and be there for our hardworking farmers and members along the value-chain.”
- Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, PEI
“This is an incredibly hard time for our province’s potato farmers. The United States has been clear that trade cannot resume until we have worked through their technical concerns. We are taking a Team Canada approach to stand up for our potato growers here on the Island and make sure we can urgently get our world-class potatoes back to market in the United States as fast as possible.”
- Heath MacDonald, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, PEI
“Island potato farmers have built a strong reputation for their dedication and diligence. They work hard every day to grow healthy, high-quality, delicious potatoes. We must do all we can to protect that reputation and resume exports as quickly as possible. As we work through this crisis, I want everyone to know the federal government is working at full speed to reach a solution. We have your back.”
- Robert J. Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont, PEI
Potato wart is a soil-borne fungus that can remain dormant in a field for more than 40 years. It has no negative effects on human health or food safety; however, it has an impact on the economic return for potato growers by reducing yield and making potatoes unmarketable.
Producers have access to a suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm. These programs are 60:40 cost-shared between the federal government and the province.
PEI producers can now access up to 75% of their expected AgriStability payment on an interim basis. While over 80% of PEI potato farmers are already enrolled in AgriStability for 2021, all PEI producers now have access to the AgriStability program since the late participation provision is in effect.
AgriInsurance will provide support for farms that face production and quality losses directly caused by potato wart, with coverage for up to 90% of their losses.
In addition, AgriInvest funds are immediately available for use by producers to support any need they see fit. PEI potato producers widely participate in AgriInvest and average available balances are approximately $90,000.
The US is a major destination for PEI potatoes, with approximately $103.4 million of total PEI table stock and processing potato exports in 2020.
Trade of processed potatoes is not affected by the suspension of export certification. In 2020, PEI’s processed potato exports (such as frozen fries or chips) to the United States were valued at $370.8 Million.
- Update on Canada’s engagement with the U.S. on potato wart and collaboration on farmer supports
- Government-Industry potato working group assembles to help affected farmers in Prince Edward Island
- Statement by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau on potato wart in Prince Edward Island
- Minister Bibeau meets with U.S. Ambassador to Canada Cohen
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