Business & Policy
Editorial: Our circus, our monkeys
February 24, 2022 By Stefanie Croley
Not my circus, not my monkeys. If you’re like me, you’ve probably used that line before to set an imaginary boundary between yourself and a sticky situation. The phrase – a translated version of a Polish proverb – references the idea that a particular problem doesn’t affect you, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it. In fact, it’s probably something you can ignore altogether.
We’ve all thought that way before, though it might not be something we’d like to admit. But the older I get, the more I learn that that even though I might not be the circus ringmaster, I still have a front-row seat to the show. It’s becoming increasingly hard to turn a blind eye to what’s going on around us, and it’s even more important not to ignore it. Just because it’s not happening to me, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
This was a key message from the panel discussion at the 2022 Canadian Potato Summit, a virtual event organized and hosted by Potatoes in Canada in early February. P.E.I. potato growers have suffered severe stress and loss again this year, after potato wart was confirmed in P.E.I. potato fields in November for the second year in a row, resulting in seed potato shipments to the U.S. being suspended.
No matter your role in the industry, it’s hard to ignore the difficulties growers have faced because of this situation. During the panel at the Summit, Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, shared a bit of the devastation, and we virtually empathized together. But what resonated more for me as I listened to him speak seriously to his fellow panellists and the audience was Donald’s reminder: if it can happen in P.E.I., it can happen to any province, and the implications are felt nationwide. Not just P.E.I.’s circus, not just P.E.I.’s monkeys.
In positive news, just before this issue went to press, the United States had agreed to resume imports of P.E.I. table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working on their analysis for resuming imports of P.E.I. table stock potatoes to the continental U.S. Progress is good, but the journey isn’t over yet.
As we approach this growing season, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on what’s happening, both in your fields and beyond. While this setback has been incredibly difficult for growers, it’s not all doom and gloom. Donald and his fellow panellists, Shawn Brenn from the Ontario Potato Board, and Terence Hochstein with the Potato Growers of Alberta, all agreed the Canadian potato industry is an innovative and resilient bunch, producing some of the safest, healthiest and most sought-after crops in Canada. Backed by novel research, both on display at the Canadian Potato Summit, and amongst the pages of this issue, the future is bright for Canadian potatoes.
You can read a more detailed summary of the Canadian Potato Summit on page 20, and watch a recording of all of the sessions for free, online at
Best of luck as your season begins.
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