Following the closure of the United States border to Prince Edward Island potatoes last year the Canadian government is giving $28 million in support for the industry, an April 28 news release says.
The funding is part of the federal budget for 2022. There will be $16 million provided to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency over two years starting with the 2022/23 season to support long-term investments and assist in stabilizing the P.E.I. potato sector and supply chain. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will receive $12 million over two years to accelerate the investigation into the latest detection of potato wart to help prevent its spread and to allow for full trade to resume with the U.S. as soon as possible.
On April 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed exports of P.E.I. fresh potatoes to resume following a months long closure. Since November, potato exports to the U.S. and Puerto Rico from P.E.I. were halted after potato wart was discovered for the second year in a row on the Island. Potato exports to Puerto Rico resumed on Feb. 8.
The CFIA will use the funding to fill over 35 positions in order to accelerate the soil sampling and testing, including an expansion of current laboratory capacity, the release says. This will help to maximize CFIA’s efficiency in completing the ongoing investigations related to the most recent findings identified in October 2021, which are targeted for completion in 2023.
“The reopening of the continental U.S. market for fresh potatoes is an important step that has given growers the predictability and assurance they need for the upcoming season. We know there is still work to be done and together, we will help ensure a stable future for the industry,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, says in the release.
The release notes the government is also providing a Stay of Default for 2021 outstanding potato advances. This allows growers flexibility to repay advance payments from 2021. Growers interested in taking advantage of this are encouraged to Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture for more information.
Potato seed growers may also be eligible for compensation under the Potato Wart Compensation Regulations, the release says.
The release also notes the federal government is committed to restoring full U.S. market access for P.E.I. potatoes.