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U.S. imports of P.E.I. potatoes to resume with conditions

March 25, 2022  By Potatoes in Canada

After months of halted potato exports, the United States will soon resume imports of Prince Edward Island (PEI) table stock potatoes into the continental U.S. with “reasonable science-based conditions.”

Statements released March 24 from both Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) said a pest risk analysis had been completed, concluding the trade of P.E.I. table stock potatoes can be done safely. This U.S. decision follows the successful re-opening of the Puerto Rican market on Feb. 9, 2022. Table stock potatoes represent the biggest proportion of PEI’s exports of fresh potatoes to the U.S, according to Bibeau.

“USDA has determined P.E.I. potatoes for consumption only may resume under specified conditions that will pose little risk of introducing potato wart disease into the United States,” the USDA statement notes, before outlining the import requirements from the USDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) mitigations. These include:

  • Imported table stock potatoes from PEI and the seed potatoes used to produce them must originate from fields not known to be infested with potato wart or associated with known infestations.
  • The table stock potatoes must be washed in PEI to remove soil, treated with a sprout inhibitor, and graded to meet the U.S. No 1 standard.
  • Shipments must be officially inspected by the NPPO of Canada and certified as meeting USDA requirements.

“Potato exports are essential for the livelihoods of so many Islanders, and I am confident that this decision by the U.S. will give farmers the predictability and assurances they need for the next potato growing season,” Bibeau stated in a press release. “The Government of Canada appreciates the U.S.’s ongoing technical collaboration in resolving this issue based on science, which highlights the importance of our bilateral collaboration. Open, predictable, science-based international trade is essential for Canadian businesses and provides stability for our producers and international partners.”

Bibeau noted that CFIA would work in collaboration with industry to implement new export requirements as quickly as possible.

In a statement released on Twitter, the Prince Edward Island Potato Board said the long-awaited response from the United States is welcome news.

“The Board is awaiting the full details of this decision in order to fully understand all effects on the resumption of trade,” the statement says, further noting that P.E.I. seed potato growers are still subject to trade restrictions that need to be addressed. “However, [this] announcement from USDA APHIS is encouraging for Prince Edward Island’s table stock potato growers.

“We look forward to immediate discussions with Minister Bibeau and representatives of the [CFIA] to confirm how this normalization of trade will be implemented and the timeframe for amending the U.S. Federal Order to allow the resumption of trade.”

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