Potato shipments have been shut down indefinite to prevent the spread of potato wart from Prince Edward Island (PEI) to other Canadian provinces and the U.S. The order came from the Canadian government effective at midnight November 24th.
The announcement comes after potato wart was confirmed on October 1 and 14, 2021 on two PEI farms where potatoes were being grown for processing. On November 2, 2021, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced the suspension of the movement of seed potatoes from PEI to the United States.
Shipments of PEI seed potatoes to other Canadian provinces have been suspended and enhanced measures for cleaning other potatoes from PEI are being implemented. For the U.S., all exports of potatoes from PEI will be suspended until further notice. Additionally, equipment used in fields in PEI face new restrictions before crossing into the U.S.
“The U.S. potato industry appreciates (Canada) for acting quickly and recognizing the dire threat to the U.S. and Canadian potato industries should potato wart be spread beyond PEI,” said NPC President and Maine potato grower Dominic LaJoie.
Should potato wart be transmitted to the United States, the U.S. potato industry would likely lose access to all international fresh potato markets, costing the industry over $225 million in annual sales.
“We appreciate the steadfast support of Secretary Vilsack and the entire USDA APHIS team in addressing this virulent disease. The U.S. industry stands ready to engage with APHIS, CFIA and the Canadian industry to ensure that science-based measures are maintained to mitigate disease risk and productively address trade between the two countries,” said Jared Balcom, Vice President of Trade Affairs for National Potato Council.
In response to that limited action, last week NPC and 13 state potato organizations sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for the U.S. government’s support to prevent the spread of potato wart to the United States by suspending the importation of all potatoes grown in PEI, not just seed potatoes.
The National Potato Council represents the interests of U.S. potato growers on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental and trade issues. The value of U.S. potato production is over $4.5 billion annually and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly.