National survey for potato wart completed ahead of schedule – potato wart not detected


December 23, 2021 — Ottawa, ON — Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed its national survey for potato wart ahead of schedule, and potato wart was not detected. The national survey conducted this fall involved soil testing across areas of Canada that grow seed potatoes (except Newfoundland) to confirm that unregulated areas of Canada remain free from this pest. It demonstrates Canada's commitment to preventing and managing the spread of this disease, supports exports, and is expected to strengthen trading partners' confidence in Canadian potatoes.

The expedited completion of the survey marks an important step in the Government of Canada's action plan to reassure international trading partners of the safety of Canadian seed potatoes. It is also information that the United States (US) is seeking, as part of its ongoing review of the CFIA's containment and control of potato wart. The latest scientific evidence gathered from the national survey was provided to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) earlier today, and should serve to provide reassurances they need that it is safe to resume the trade of fresh potatoes. The US is also looking for outcomes of the CFIA investigation into the recent detections of potato wart on PEI to show that appropriate mitigation measures and an ongoing monitoring plan for a clearly defined quarantined area are key in controlling the spread of potato wart.

Clear scientific data like these survey results are one step in assuring trading partners that the trade in potatoes from non-quarantined fields is safe and does not pose a risk to pest-free areas. It is important news for potato producers in Prince Edward Island and across Canada. The CFIA stands firm that, based on the science, the risks associated with the transmission of potato wart from fresh potatoes remain negligible when appropriate risk mitigation measures are in place.

The cooperation of seed potato growers was essential in conducting this national survey, and the CFIA has informed them of the survey results.

The Government of Canada is taking a Team Canada approach to resolving this science-based issue and will continue to provide updates as new information is available. Cooperation with potato producers, industry, other government departments and trading partners is essential to resume market access for PEI fresh potatoes and to ensure continued market access for high-quality potatoes from across Canada.

Quick facts

  • Potato wart is an extremely persistent fungus in soil that reduces yield on farms. It can spread through the movement of soil, farm equipment, and potatoes from fields that have potato wart. As a pest regulated under the Plant Protection Act, its detection may trigger measures to control the disease and prevent its spread.
  • Potato wart poses no threat to human health.
  • Potato wart has been known to be present in Newfoundland since 1909. Strict quarantine measures are in place to prevent the potential spread of this pest to other areas of Canada.
  • Soil testing has always been the basis for the detection and confirmation of potato wart in Canada. Even when an infected tuber is presented to the CFIA, the next step is to test the field through soil sampling.
  • The number of soil samples for potato wart fluctuates year to year based on market demand, requirements of investigations and the Potato Wart Domestic Long Term Management Plan.
  • On November 21, 2021, the CFIA suspended export certificates for fresh potatoes from Prince Edward Island (PEI) to the US in response to US concerns. This action was taken in order to avoid the implementation of a US Federal Order that would prohibit the import of fresh potatoes from PEI, which would be very challenging to overturn.
  • Also on November 21, 2021, a Ministerial Order was put in place to prevent the spread of potato wart in the rest of Canada and abroad. The actions are necessary to protect Canada's national potato industry and to support the long-term future for the industry in PEI.
  • On December 20, 2021, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced $28 million to support Prince Edward Island potato producers impacted by trade disruptions.

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