Statement by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau on potato wart in Prince Edward Island
In October of this year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the presence of potato wart in two fields on Prince Edward Island (PEI). CFIA immediately initiated an investigation and implemented strict regulatory measures to prevent potential spread.
As of today, I have signed a Ministerial Order to restrict the movement of seed potatoes from PEI, and to introduce new risk mitigation measures for PEI table stock and processing potatoes to ensure that potato wart does not spread to other parts of the country. The Ministerial Order will allow time for CFIA to continue to collaborate with the provincial government and potato industry to explore solutions based on scientific evidence. This Order is a responsible science-based approach that will provide the protection our industry needs domestically.
Despite these plant health controls put in place by Canada, the United States also expressed serious concerns to Canada over the recent detections of potato wart in Prince Edward Island, and made it clear the U.S. also planned to impose a federal order banning imports of all fresh PEI potatoes if Canada did not act first to suspend trade.
We believe in the science, which tells us that the U.S. intention to suspend the trade of fresh potatoes from PEI goes beyond what is necessary to mitigate risk. With the proper mitigation measures, the trade of table stock and processing potatoes remains absolutely safe.
But in order to resume trade as quickly as possible and prevent the imposition of more damaging, long-term measures, we must engage with the United States' concerns. Therefore, as of November 21, 2021, the CFIA has temporarily suspended trade of fresh potatoes from PEI to the U.S. We do not take this measure lightly.
We are determined to stand firm for Canadian interests and committed to supporting potato growers and Prince Edward Island. I have raised the issue twice with my counterpart, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and we will explore every channel possible to give this issue the attention it deserves within the United States Government. Canada and the United States have a long history of engaging in bilateral trade based on science, and maintaining strong supply chains is more important than ever for both our countries.
While efforts to resume full access for PEI fresh potatoes are underway, we are working on a plan to support potato growers impacted by this temporary market suspension. That includes cost-shared Business Risk Management programs and collaborative efforts to determine how to reroute existing stock in storage in PEI. We will also work with the Province of PEI to determine what additional supports may be required to support impacted producers.
We will continue to engage with industry to understand their needs and concerns, and have created a Potato Working Group with provincial and industry stakeholders.
PEI has a long history of producing the highest quality potatoes for Canadians and international consumers. The Government of Canada shares the great pride of our PEI potato producers.
PEI potato growers can be assured that the Government of Canada is doing everything we can to restore market access to the U.S. for this vital industry.
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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