Alberta is officially free of the potato cyst nematode (PCN) which opens trade borders for them, the government says in a news release on April 7.
PCN is a destructive pest which lives in the soil and has the potential to dramatically impact potato yields. It’s regulated under Alberta’s Agricultural Pests Act and is a federally regulated quarantine pest in Canada.
In 2007, the CFIA placed two fields in Alberta under a Notice of Prohibition after routine testing raised suspicion of the presence of PCN. With the production of potatoes in these fields halted, years of restrictions and surveillance followed across the province, the release notes.
Alberta exports the most seed potatoes in Canada, meaning PCN has led to challenges for exporting to the United States and Asia, the release notes. The government of Alberta, Potato Growers of Alberta, Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have worked together on getting it out of Alberta.
Other Alberta potato farmers were ultimately able to resume export of seed potatoes to the U.S. in January 2009, though the issue has continued to impact international market access for Alberta seed potatoes. More than a decade later, the CFIA has now removed the restrictions after the 2020 tests all came back negative.