The Prince Edward Island potato board says the high price for potatoes will put millions of extra dollars into the provincial economy this winter.
Prices were a big topic of conversation when growers met in Charlottetown for the board’s annual meeting Nov. 18.
But prices vary depending on which varieties are grown.
“Prices are up considerable,” said potato farmer Alex Docherty, who is also the board president.
“A penny a pound brings nine million more dollars so some varieties are up five, some are up eight cents. Well do the math, it’s 75 million coming into the economy of P.E.I. just in the potato industry alone … and you know what’ll happen with that, it’ll all get spent.”
The potato harvest is now complete. Good weather contributed to high yields this year across the Island, Docherty said.
P.E.I. agriculture sector in good shape
Prince Edward Island’s agriculture sector is well positioned to weather a slow Canadian economy, says an economist with Farm Credit Canada.
According to J.P. Gervais, chief agricultural economist with Farm Credit Canada, Domestic Product growth in P.E.I. is higher than the national average.
“That’s partly the result of a stronger manufacturing base, perhaps not as much as we would like it to be, but if you look at the positive, it’s definitely growing fast compared to the rest of the country, which is a big positive for P.E.I.”
He added that while prices for most commodities are stagnant, that’s not the case for potatoes.
“Good growth on the demand side for potatoes, as well as a low Canadian dollar, did increase the sales in the U.S. especially, as well as give producers a really high price,” Gervais said.
“So combine that with strong production, it actually shows up pretty well in the picture for the P.E.I. potato sector.”
Some at the Potato Board AGM had questions about how a new U.S. government, under president-elect Donald Trump, could impact the sale of Island potatoes outside Canada.
According to Gervais, it’s unlikely the Trans Pacific Partnership will go ahead, but that doesn’t mean the work that went into the TPP was a waste. He said Japan, in particular, a country part of the existing TPP agreement, could still become a big customer when it comes to importing potatoes from Canada.
“So if we put TPP aside, and focus on the one on one relationship with Japan, which imports a lot of it’s food,” Gervais said. “If we could just lower the trade taxes that we face as Canadian businesses, at the border when we sell into Japan, that would be a big benefit actually.”