Government of Canada continues work to support Prince Edward Island potato farmers

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE, April 28, 2022 /CNW/ – Prince Edward Island (PEI) has a long history of producing the highest quality potatoes for Canadians and international consumers. The Government of Canada will continue to stand up for PEI potato farmers, who are vital to their communities and our economy.

Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, highlighted new measures to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the potato industry on Prince Edward Island.

The Government of Canada is committed to restoring full market access for PEI potatoes to the United States and will continue to support potato growers as they head back to the fields and prepare for the upcoming growing season. Reopening the United States border for most PEI potato exports came at a critical time for the industry. Minister Bibeau and her federal colleagues have been working tirelessly on this issue, and conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels to advocate for PEI’s potato industry, including a visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and several meetings with both Canadian and U.S. stakeholders.

As part of continued efforts to support the long term prosperity of PEI’s potato industry, Budget 2022 provides $28 million in additional funding. Including:

  • $16 million over two years, starting in 2022-23 to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to support long-term investments and assist in stabilizing the PEI potato sector and supply chain.
  • $12 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) 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.

The CFIA will use the funds to fill over 35 positions to accelerate the soil sampling and testing, including an expansion of current laboratory capacity. This will help 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.

Beyond the federal support allocated to PEI’s potato industry in Budget 2022, the Government of Canada has also provided a Stay of Default for 2021 outstanding potato advances. These have been granted to provide growers with additional flexibility to repay an estimated $20 million in advance payments. Potato growers who received support from the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA) 2021 Advance Payments Program (APP) and are in good standing are eligible for the Stay of Default. Growers are encouraged to contact the PEIFA office as soon as possible for more details.

In addition, potato seed growers may also be eligible for compensation under the Potato Wart Compensation Regulations (PWCR). Compensation under these regulations is another tool to support growers.

PEI exports of fresh potatoes are vital to the Island’s economy, and to all of Canada. The Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring the long term prosperity of PEI’s potato industry for future generations to come.

Quotes

“This issue has touched the lives of many Islanders, from multi-generational family farms, to packers, shippers, and more. The new measures announced under Budget 2022 and all the other federal support provided will help our potato industry build a bright future for the next generation of PEI potato farmers.”
–  The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

“The potato is part of Prince Edward Island’s identity. The Government of Canada recognizes that the situation has been incredibly difficult for potato growers, their families and all industry stakeholders in the province. 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.”
–  The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Since potato export restrictions were first announced, ACOA has sought to provide PEI potato producers with the supports and financial relief they needed to navigate this immense challenge. These new investments are another step toward full recovery and long-term sustainability for the industry.”
–  The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

“I know the pride and dedication that go into every bag of PEI potatoes. Together, industry, provincial and federal governments have and will continue to work to contain the spread of potato wart and support ongoing trade of the high quality potatoes produced by PEI.”
–  Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, PEI

“The potato industry is the backbone of the PEI economy, and our farmers have a strong reputation of growing high quality, delicious potatoes that are enjoyed around the world. The Government will continue to make strategic investments to help them thrive at home and in the global marketplace.”
–  Heath MacDonald, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, PEI

“Potatoes are a key economic driver and our hard working farmers are proud of the products they grow and export to markets worldwide. We will continue to support them as they head back to fields and begin the growing season.”
–  Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont, PEI

Quick Facts

  • On February 8, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the resumption of trade in table stock potatoes from Prince Edward Island to Puerto Rico. This was an important step in restoring United States market access for Prince Edward Island, as exports of Prince Edward Island table stock potatoes to Puerto Rico were valued at $12 million in 2020.
  • On April 1, 2022, through the establishment of a new U.S. federal order, the U.S. announced the reopening of the entire U.S. market for PEI potatoes for consumption.
  • Further federal measures to support the PEI potato industry include:
    • Adjustments to the AgriStability program, which protects producers against large declines in farming income, so that producers who did not enroll for the 2021 program year can sign-up now and still access this important income support.
    • AgriStability interim payments have increased, so that producers can now apply for up to 75% of their anticipated payment, up from 50%.
    • Federal investments of up to $28 million for the Surplus Potato Management Response plan to support potato producers in Prince Edward Island affected by trade disruptions related to the outbreak of potato wart. These funds support the diversion of surplus potatoes to processors, packers and food banks, and other markets, and provided support for costs associated with environmentally sound destruction of surplus potatoes.
    • Over $180,000 in loan deferrals from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to support clients in the sector.
    • Investments in various projects to support the sector, including $700,000 to develop the PEI Potato Industry Market Diversification and Recovery Plan, as well as a $600,000 investment in RWL Holdings Ltd. to increase potato washing capacity to help the sector take advantage of new market opportunities.
  • Growers eligible for a Stay of Default no longer have to provide proof of sale, which will allow them to repay their advances using any source of funds without incurring a penalty, including their 2022 APP advance.
  • The Potato Wart Compensation Regulations were enacted in 2003 to provide compensation for specific, confirmed losses due to treatment, prohibition, restriction or disposition related to potato wart.
  • Potato wart is a persistent fungus in soil that reduces yield on farms and can spread through the movement of soil, farm equipment, and potatoes from fields. It is a pest regulated under the Plant Protection Act, which means its detection may trigger measures to control the disease and prevent its spread.
  • The first potato wart detection in PEI in 2000 resulted in the closure of the U.S.-Canada border for all fresh PEI potatoes – including seed, table stock and processing potatoes – for six months. Since this first detection, the CFIA has implemented the Potato Wart Domestic Long Term Management Plan to prevent the spread of this pest to protect plant health and trade

.Related Products

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
Web: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Backgrounder

The potato wart crisis situation in PEI has highlighted the need to manage and contain this disease to meet international obligations and preserve export market access for Canada.

To help prevent spread of potato wart to other parts of Canada and maintain export markets, the Government of Canada has announced a series of measures to support PEI potato farmers who have been impacted. These included:

  • Adjustments to the AgriStability program, which protects producers against large declines in farming income, so that producers who did not enroll for the 2021 program year can sign-up now and still access this important income support. AgriStability interim payments have increased, so that producers can now apply for up to 75% of their anticipated payment, up from 50%.
  • A Stay of Default for 2021 outstanding potato advances has been granted to provide producers with additional flexibility to repay an estimated $20 million in advance payments at the request of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA). Potato producers who received support from PEIFA’s 2021 Advance Payment Program (APP) and are in good standing are eligible for the Stay of Default. The requirement for these producers to provide proof of sale is being waived, which will allow them to repay their advances using any source of funds without incurring a penalty, including their 2022 APP advance.
  • AgriInvest program, a self-managed producer-government savings account designed to help farmers manage small income declines and make investments to manage risk and improve market income. AgriInvest balances are available at any time to support income declines.
  • $28 million for the Surplus Potato Management Response plan to support potato producers in Prince Edward Island affected by trade disruptions related to the outbreak of potato wart. These funds support the diversion of surplus potatoes to processors, packers and food banks, and other markets, and provided support for costs associated with environmentally-sound destruction of surplus potatoes. AAFC is working with the Government of PEI, the PEI Potato Board, national food bank organizations and other stakeholder groups to deliver the funding.
  • $12M over two years proposed under Budget 2022 to support ongoing efforts to address the potato wart situation on Prince Edward Island (PEI).
  • This funding will allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to: increase its soil collection and testing capacity; complete investigations into the most recent findings of potato wart on PEI; and, help prevent its spread within Canada or abroad to protect Canada’s plant resource base as well as preserve market access and trade arrangements. The intent is to hire in excess of 35 full-time equivalents, including 25 full-time equivalent employees located in PEI.
  • Compensation under the Potato Wart Compensation Regulations (PWCR) for specific, confirmed losses due to compliance with notices issued under the Plant Protection Act (PPA) or Plant Protection Regulations (PPR) for treatment, prohibition, restriction, or disposition related to potato wart. Under the authorities of the PPR, the CFIA will be issuing notices to dispose of some seed potatoes from the 2021 crop. Growers who receive a notice from the CFIA to dispose product may be eligible for compensation under the PWCR. Between the first potato wart detection in 2000 and December 31, 2021, compensation paid under the PWCR was approximately $6.2 million. The CFIA is preparing to issue the notices to dispose, and has provided further details on compensation for seed potato growers.
  • Over $180,000 in loan deferrals from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
  • Investments in various projects to support the sector, including $700,000 to develop the PEI Potato Industry Market Diversification and Recovery Plan, as well as a $600,000 investment in RWL Holdings Ltd. to increase potato washing capacity and help the sector find new markets.
  • Budget 2022 also proposes $16M over two years to support long-term investments to assist in stabilizing the Prince Edward Island potato sector and supply chain.

Furthermore, to help resolve the issue as quickly as possible, the Government of Canada conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels. On January 27, Ministers’ Bibeau and MacAulay went to Washington, DC to meet with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and underscore the importance of restoring market access for PEI potatoes for Canada and Islanders, while also emphasizing the urgency of the situation. The Ministers and Secretary Vilsack agreed to remain closely engaged on the matter and reopen the continental U.S. market for table stock potatoes as quickly as possible.

On February 8, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the resumption of trade in table stock potatoes from Prince Edward Island to Puerto Rico, and on April 1, 2022, the U.S. announced the reopening of the entire U.S. market for PEI potatoes for consumption.

SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

For further information: Marianne Dandurand, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, [email protected], 343-541-9229; Media Relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1-866-345-7972, [email protected]; Marianne Blondin, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Official Languages and of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, [email protected]

Comments are closed.