Canada restores exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico
February 8, 2022 – Ottawa, ON – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced that the United States has agreed to resume imports of Prince Edward Island (PEI) table stock potatoes into Puerto Rico starting tomorrow. The Government of Canada has been taking a science-based approach with the United States to provide the necessary assurances that would allow for the resumption of trade for PEI’s high-quality fresh potatoes. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working with industry to implement the import requirements for Puerto Rico, including labelling and traceability.
Resuming exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico is an important step in restoring U.S. market access for PEI. In 2020, PEI’s exports of table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico were valued at $12 million. Exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico represent a negligible risk for the transmission of potato wart, given that Puerto Rico does not produce commercial potatoes and that there are strong and effective risk mitigation measures in place. In addition, PEI potatoes are an important staple for many families throughout Puerto Rico given their high quality and affordability.
The United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is also currently working expeditiously on their analysis for importing PEI table stock potatoes to the continental United States. The CFIA continues to have regular technical discussions with APHIS to provide the necessary scientific data and information to resume trade.
The Government of Canada will continue to take a Team Canada approach and deal with the United States on their science-based concerns, which is the best chance for re-opening the potato market in the United States as quickly as possible.
“Resuming exports of PEI table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico is an important step in restoring market access for PEI. This issue has touched the lives of so many Islanders, from multi-generational family farms, to packers, processors, shippers, and more. Today, PEI’s hard working farmers can finally feel some sense of relief knowing their high quality potatoes will start moving again for export. We know there is more work ahead, and that is why we will continue to engage with our American partners on a science-based approach to further restore trade for PEI table stock potatoes to all the continental United States.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“The United States re-opening access to Puerto Rico is good news for our potato growers, and good news for Prince Edward Island. It has been an incredibly difficult few months, and this is a vitally important first step to resuming trade. We have been doing everything we can to get our world-class potatoes moving back across the border, and we’ll keep fighting to restore access to the rest of the US market.”
- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“Regaining access to this market is a positive development. We must continue working to regain access to the remaining market for exports to the U.S. as soon as possible. PEI has world class, quality, and safe potatoes, including seed, which other markets want to grow. We must remove any barriers and address any concerns to immediately restore this important sector of the potato industry.”
- Heath MacDonald, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, PEI
“With this positive news it confirms the approach our Government took in responding to the border closure was the correct one to ensure long term access to American markets based on science.”
- Robert J. Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont, PEI
“The potato producers of PEI have greatly suffered since the U.S. decision to close it's border. Today's announcement is welcome news for them and, indeed, for all Islanders. My sincere hope is that the unified, principled, direct approach to the Americans that produced this positive result proves to be the formula to a full reopening of markets for our world-class potatoes.”
- Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, 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 can have an impact on the economic return for potato growers by reducing yield and making potatoes unmarketable.
Table stock potatoes are washed before export, and a sprout inhibitor is applied, further minimizing the risk of spreading potato wart.
Under Canada’s Plant Protection Regulations, the CFIA may only issue export certificates if the requirements of the importing country are met.
On November 22, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instructed their border services to refuse entry of any shipment of seed, table and processing potatoes from PEI.
On December 20, 2021, the Government announced up to $28 million to help PEI potato producers manage surplus potatoes.
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.
- Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island deliver funding for the diversion of surplus potatoes
- Minister Bibeau and Minister MacAulay meet with United States Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack
- New Federal Ministerial Coordinating Committee on PEI Potatoes brings whole-of-government approach to help farmers affected by U.S. trade disruption
- National survey for potato wart completed ahead of schedule – potato wart not detected
- Update on Canada's engagement with the U.S. on potato wart and collaboration on farmer supports
- Statement by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau on potato wart in Prince Edward Island
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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