New Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on PEI Potatoes brings whole-of-government approach to help farmers affected by U.S. trade disruption
January 7, 2022 – Ottawa, ON – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to restoring market access for PEI fresh potatoes to the United States and supporting PEI farmers impacted by trade disruptions. To that end, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today announced the creation of the new Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on PEI Potatoes with the objective of enhancing coordination and collaboration across the federal government to respond to concerns and find solutions.
The Committee will be an important forum to exchange information and further develop strategies to address the issue, while minimizing impacts of potato wart on the PEI potato sector. It will build on and complement the important work that has been done to date. The Committee will examine a range of issues, such as updates on the technical discussions to provide scientific assurance to the United States, the delivery of programs to support farmers, the progress of the Industry-Government Potato Working Group, and advocacy efforts to access international markets. The first meeting will take place next week.
The Committee will be co-chaired by Minister Bibeau and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Members of the Committee include: the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development; and the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.
On November 22, the United States Department of Agriculture instructed their border services to reject any shipment of seed, table and processing potatoes from PEI. The United States has requested clear scientific data on CFIA’s investigation of the recent potato wart detections, clear risk mitigation measures, and an ongoing monitoring plan for clearly-defined quarantined areas. While the CFIA is currently redoubling their efforts to gather the requested information in order to reassure the United States, they cannot certify PEI potatoes as they do not meet US requirements in accordance with the plant protection regulations.
Since then, the Government has: created an Industry-Government Potato Working Group; announced up to $28 million in funding to help manage surplus potatoes; made important adjustments to the AgriStability program; completed the national survey for potato wart ahead of schedule; and conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels to resolve this issue.
“It is a top priority for our Government to reopen the American border for PEI fresh potatoes and support the farmers affected by this difficult situation. For many weeks already, my cabinet colleagues and I have joined efforts to ensure all options are explored. The formal creation of this committee helps build upon the work we are doing together across Government.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“Potatoes are one of the defining features of Prince Edward Island. This past year saw high yields, making the current situation even more devastating for PEI farmers and their communities. Through this Committee, we will coordinate our approach across the federal government to restore trade with the United States and support the PEI potato industry.”
- The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
“Federal-provincial collaboration is key to restoring the trade of fresh potatoes from PEI to the U.S. and ensuring that affected farmers are supported. Our Government will continue to work collaboratively with the Government of Prince Edward Island on this important issue.”
- The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
“PEI’s exports of fresh potatoes are vital to the Island’s economy, and to all of Canada. I will work with my Canadian colleagues and my international counterparts to resume trade as quickly as we can. I have pushed for science-based safe trade of PEI fresh potatoes with my United States counterpart and key leaders at every opportunity and will continue to do so.”
- The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
“As a former potato grower, I understand how incredibly difficult this situation is for our farmers, their families, and everyone else involved in the potato industry here on the Island. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to support Islanders who are affected, and to address the concerns that the United States has about Potato Wart. This Committee is going to play an important role in doing that, and we’ll keep working together with the federal and provincial governments, our scientists, and the potato industry all pushing in the same direction.”
- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
The Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on PEI Potatoes will meet as required, starting in January 2022.
On December 20, 2021, the Government announced up to $28 million for immediate actions to help PEI potato producers manage surplus potatoes.
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.
On December 23, 2021, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced the results of its national survey for potato wart, and potato wart was not detected in unregulated areas. The national survey involved soil testing across areas of Canada that grow seed potatoes (except Newfoundland) to confirm that unregulated areas remain free from this pest.
Producers have access to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s 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.
The United States 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.
- United States Department of Agriculture notification regarding border rejection of PEI potatoes
- National survey for potato wart completed ahead of schedule – potato wart not detected
- Minister Bibeau announces $28 million to support Prince Edward Island potato producers impacted by trade disruptions
- Update on Canada’s engagement with the U.S. on potato wart and collaboration on farmer supports
- Industry-Government Potato Working Group
- Statement by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau on potato wart in Prince Edward Island
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
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