HomeBusinessP.E.I. potato farmers still hurting after export ban

P.E.I. potato farmers still hurting after export ban


Potato farmers in Prince Edward Island are feeling the affect of misplaced prospects one yr after desk potato shipments to the United States have been banned for 4 months.

Canada stopped sending the Island’s best-known export to the U.S. on Nov. 21, 2021, after potato wart fungus — a illness that disfigures potatoes — had been detected in just a few fields on the Island. The fungal parasite spreads by way of the motion of contaminated potatoes, soil and farm gear however poses no menace to human well being.

Shipments resumed in April after the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the all-clear for Island farms to continue exports to that nation. But for farmers like Andrew Smith — whose property in Newton, P.E.I., produces potatoes for chips — the lack of long-term prospects within the United States has had lasting penalties.

Smith stated he misplaced a contract with a big U.S. firm that modified suppliers throughout the export ban, including that he is fearful by renewed lobbying efforts from the U.S.-based National Potato Council, which is looking for extra stringent packing necessities for P.E.I. exports.

Jordan Docherty, who retired from the army with plans to take over the household farm in Elmwood, P.E.I., stated in an interview Monday it is discouraging that Ottawa is taking months to allow the delivery of seed potatoes from the province to markets elsewhere in Canada. Canada imposed a home seed potato export ban on the similar time it imposed the U.S. ban.

Docherty, 33, stated he and his 29-year-old brother, Logan Docherty, are enthusiastic about taking up the household enterprise — which was began in 1848 — however the challenges are daunting. Jordan Docherty stated the export ban pressured one off-Island buyer to begin buying seed potatoes at larger costs from one other vendor, and as a consequence, “He’s tapped out and says, ‘I’m not going to develop anymore.”‘

Jordan Docherty’s father, Alex Docherty, estimated the affect of misplaced enterprise from the border closure is “a whole bunch of 1000’s of {dollars} over my lifetime.”

“My greatest buyer referred to as me final week from Ontario desirous to know if we will be allowed to promote. But we do not know,” Alex Docherty stated in an interview Monday.

“If we do not get them again, I simply do not know what’s going to occur, to let you know the reality,” he stated.

The limits positioned on the export of P.E.I.’s most precious crop is figured to have value the trade greater than $50 million in income and compelled farmers to destroy 250 million kilos of potatoes, in line with the P.E.I. Potato Board.

Alex Docherty stated that sooner or later, Ottawa ought to combat more durable towards the U.S. threats of border closures, somewhat than pre-emptively shutting down the trade. The federal Agriculture Department has stated the unique determination to cease exports was taken to pre-empt an all-out ban by the U.S. after the fungus was detected in 2021.

Seed potatoes, which comprise roughly 10 per cent of the Island’s annual output, are still banned from the U.S. pending the result of a extra thorough U.S. Department of Agriculture overview that would take years to finish.

To qualify for export, the federal order requires that desk potatoes and the seed potatoes used to develop them come from fields not recognized to be infested with potato wart. They should even be washed clear of soil whereas still in P.E.I., be handled with a sprout inhibitor and be graded to the U.S. No. 1 customary.

The order additionally requires that shipments be traceable “from manufacturing web site to packing and export” to allow them to be tracked and recalled if obligatory. They should even be “formally inspected for pest freedom” after washing.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has defended the choice to proactively halt exports, saying that if it hadn’t been for these two strikes, all P.E.I. potatoes might have confronted a ban lasting months or years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 21, 2022.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.



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