Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island deliver funding for the diversion of surplus potatoes

News release

February 1, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island are committed to supporting PEI potato farmers impacted by trade disruptions. PEI potato growers have a long history of producing high quality potatoes for Canadians and international consumers, and we are doing everything we can to restore market access to the U.S. for this vital industry.

Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, along with Prince Edward Island Minister of Agriculture and Land Bloyce Thompson, announced details on the Surplus Potato Management Response plan. As part of this plan, the Government of Canada will provide up to $28 million and the Province of PEI up to $12.2 million.

The Surplus Potato Management Response will be cost-shared between the federal and provincial governments, with a goal of diverting as many potatoes as possible to processors, packers and food banks, and minimizing the amount of surplus potatoes that must be destroyed. Producers will also receive support to assist with the costs of environmentally-sound destruction of surplus potatoes. Producers will receive up to 8.5 cents a pound for the disposal of potatoes.

Through the Surplus Potato Management Response Plan, an estimated 2.90 million cwt (290 million pounds) will be diverted to processors, packers, dehydrators, food banks and other markets. Current estimates suggest that 3 million cwt (300 million pounds) will need to be destroyed, representing just over 10 per cent of PEI’s total 2021 production. The PEI Potato Board will deliver the plan on behalf of the governments to manage potatoes that have been rendered surplus.

These efforts are helping PEI producers to sell their potatoes into the marketplace while also providing high-quality food to Canadians in need. PEI’s Department of Agriculture and Land’s Potato Wart Navigation Service remains available to producers with general questions about Potato Wart, and programs that are offered through the Provincial Government.

Both levels of government are working tirelessly to restore trade of PEI potatoes and to support the industry. As part of the ongoing efforts to engage with American counterparts, last week Minister Bibeau and the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Cardigan, met with United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who agreed for the United States Department of Agriculture to expedite their risk assessment of PEI table stock potatoes. Secretary Vilsack also committed to rendering a decision on exports to Puerto Rico within two weeks of the meeting.

We will continue to take a Team Canada approach and deal with our trading partner on their science-based concerns, which is our best chance for reopening the potato market in the United States as quickly as possible

Quotes

“Prince Edward Island potato growers and their families are going through an extremely difficult time. Working with the province and the Potato Board, we are doing everything we can to divert surplus potatoes, support our growers and quickly re-establish trade in PEI table potatoes to the United States. We are confident that we have the science to encourage the Americans to reopen their market as soon as possible.”
-   The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 

“We knew that each day that passed in our current landscape meant that we were one day closer to having to dispose of our quality PEI potatoes – and unfortunately that day is now upon us. I am certainly encouraged that my Department and federal colleagues could come together in supporting our producers in a time of need, and we will continue to work in stride so that our growers, producers, packers and operators can return to the business they know best as soon as possible.”
-   Bloyce Thompson,  Prince Edward Island Minister of Agriculture and Land

“The PEI Potato farmers appreciate the funding, which will help offset some of the costs of destruction that farms will experience due to the border closure. This is a very difficult time for farmers, and having to destroy the potatoes we worked so hard to grow is the last thing our farmers want to do”.
-    John Visser, Chair of the PEI Potato Board

Quick facts

  • This funding will support food banks in purchasing and transporting surplus potatoes, and will assist producers with costs of diversion to facilitate the movement of potatoes to dehydration plants, processors and other markets.

  • Under the Surplus Potato Management Response plan food security organizations including Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest and the Salvation Army will be using at least $3 million from the Emergency Food Security Fund to procure surplus potatoes. These organizations will leverage their existing networks of food banks across the country to provide surplus potatoes to those facing food security issues.

  • In 2020, PEI’s exports of table stock and processing potatoes to the United States were valued at approximately $103.4 million.

Associated links

Contacts

Marianne Dandurand
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
marianne.dandurand@agr.gc.ca
343 541-9229

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972
aafc.mediarelations-relationsmedias.aac@agr.gc.ca

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