Representatives from Canada and United States to meet to try to resolve Prince Edward Island potato dispute
Canadian and U.S. officials are set to meet this week to see if progress can be made to end a dispute that has led Canada to suspend all shipments of potatoes from Prince Edward Island to the United States.
Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will have a virtual chat with their US counterparts from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Wednesday.
According to a CFIA statement, officials plan to discuss “a way forward towards resuming the PEI fresh potato trade.”
Canada has suspended the shipment of potatoes from PEI. to its largest export market after potato wart fungus was detected in two fields late last year.
Ottawa argued that the self-imposed ban was necessary because it feared the United States would enforce its own ban, which would be more difficult to lift in the long term.
The decision infuriated the Premier of PEI. Dennis King and many potato growers. The fungus has been detected in two fields in PEI. where the cultivated potatoes were intended for processing in Canada and not for export to the United States.
Puerto Rico is a major market
The CFIA statement indicates that the objective of the meeting will be a national survey that it carried out in the fall of 2021 potato fields in Canada following the discovery of the wart fungus.
“Soil samples were collected and analyzed across Canada, including 178 samples from unregulated seed potato fields in Prince Edward Island. No wart was detected in any of the samples, ”the statement said.
This investigation is separate from the investigations also conducted by the CFIA after inspectors found potato wart in two fields in PEI. The pan-Canadian investigation provides additional information on the spread of potato wart in Canada, according to the CFIA statement.
Puerto Rico’s export market is also expected to be discussed at this meeting, amid pressure from importers in Prince Edward Island and Puerto Rico to have exports to the United States resumed immediately.
Potatoes are not cultivated in Puerto Rico, which means that the potato wart fungus poses no risk to crops.
About 25 percent of Prince Edward Island’s potato exports to the United States end up in Puerto Rico.
“The CFIA will increase the shipment of potatoes from PEI. in Puerto Rico at this meeting and will continue to address this issue as a priority until these exports resume, ”the statement said.
Canadian officials promise to provide an update to farmers through the PEI Potato Board once the meeting is over.