The National Potato Council (NPC), along with a dozen state potato associations, have wrote a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for them to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to develop new phytosanitary protocols to prevent the spread of potato wart from Prince Edward Island to U.S. growing areas, a Nov. 10 news release said.
The release noted the letter was written following a risk assessment which was issued by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The NPC stated that recognizing the “USDA was put under significant political pressure to reopen the border to table stock potatoes following a White House meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden, the industry remains disappointed that last Spring exports “were allowed to reopen with essentially the same protocol as before the ban was implemented.”” The release noted the NPC wrote a letter last May urging for mitigation measures to be put in place, however nothing has been done.
In the letter the NPC mentioned a number of questions and observations that should be addressed by APHIS and CFIA when constructing a new protocol:
- The pest risk assessment didn’t detail the numbers of soil samples remaining to be tested from P.E.I. How many tests are still outstanding and when will they be completed?
- Bulk shipments of fresh potatoes are allowed to enter the U.S. and in many instances are broken down and repacked. The U.S. industry strongly recommended against this practice, as the repacking process creates opportunity for improperly discarded product to spread disease. Will APHIS limit these bulk shipment sizes to reduce this risk?
- Once the initial round of tests are finally complete, will APHIS require CFIA to maintain a meaningful level of testing in P.E.I. for the foreseeable future to comprehensively monitor the disease progression?