CFIA completes potato wart investigation in Prince Edward Island


August 18, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed its investigation related to the two 2021 detections of potato wart in Prince Edward Island (PEI) ahead of the September 2023 target date.

In line with the Government of Canada's Budget 2022 commitment to support the potato industry, the CFIA accelerated its in depth investigation to help contain, control, and prevent the spread of potato wart and to maintain market access for PEI potatoes.

Over the course of the investigation, the CFIA collected and analyzed nearly 50,000 soil samples from fields in PEI associated with recent detections. The investigation identified potato wart in four additional fields, which is expected in investigations of this scale.

In these cases, and whenever potato wart is detected, land controls are put in place on individual fields to restrict the movement of potatoes, plants, soil, and other articles that could result in the spread of potato wart. Throughout the fall, CFIA will continue to conduct surveillance activities in PEI, including the surveillance of selected fields not previously associated with potato wart.

The risks associated with the transmission of potato wart from fresh potatoes from PEI remain negligible when appropriate risk mitigation measures are in place and followed. The Ministerial Order remains in effect at this time as the CFIA continues to consult with industry about next steps including enhanced control measures, such as biosecurity and traceability activities. The data collected during the investigation and the additional surveillance will help inform the development of long term programming to mitigate risk and support the economic sustainability of the potato sector in PEI and across Canada.

While investigations of this magnitude are challenging, this investigation was essential for supporting one of Canada's critical agricultural sectors and for demonstrating to domestic and international trading partners that Canada is committed to helping contain, control, and prevent the spread of potato wart.

The CFIA will continue to work with stakeholders to advance progress on this important program as quickly as possible.

Quick facts

  • Potatoes contributed approximately $1.5 billion in income in 2021 and $2.6 billion in exports of potatoes and potato products in 2021/2022.
  • In 2021/2022, Canada exported $37 million in seed potatoes, $421 million in fresh potatoes, and $1.9 billion worth of processing potatoes to all countries.
  • Seed potatoes from infested fields are at the highest risk of spreading potato wart.
  • Under the terms of the Ministerial Order, over 95% of PEI potatoes are eligible for export to the rest of Canada as well as PEI's primary export market, the U.S.
  • Potato wart is an extremely persistent soil-borne fungus that may reduce yield and potato tuber quality on farms. It can spread through the movement of soil, farm equipment, and potatoes from fields that have potato wart.
  • When left unmanaged, potato wart can cause field losses of all types of potatoes between 50% and 100%.

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