Prince Edward Island (PEI) farmers put everything that they have into their crops and many families’ livelihoods depend on this industry. I know the disruption to trade due to the United States’ concerns over potato wart has touched the lives of so many Islanders, from multi-generational family farms, to packers, processors, shippers, and more.
What should have been a great year for PEI—a bumper crop and favourable market conditions—has turned into an incredibly difficult one.
While restored trade with Puerto Rico will bring relief to some farmers, the border remains closed to many. We know there is more work ahead, and that is why we will continue to engage at every level with the Americans to further restore trade for PEI potatoes to the United States. Unfortunately, we have come to the point where some of the surplus potatoes are starting to be destroyed.
Through the Surplus Potato Management Response plan, we’re diverting as many potatoes as possible to food banks, dehydration plants, processors, and other markets to minimize the amount of surplus potatoes that must be destroyed. For potatoes that cannot be diverted, producers will receive up to 8.5 cents a pound to assist with the costs of destruction of potatoes in an environmentally sound manner. I am grateful for the help of the PEI Potato Board for the resources they have devoted to this effort, and for their role in being the delivery partner.
To PEI farmers, and to all Islanders, please know that we are doing all in our power to support you and restore trade. I will not rest until the U.S. border is re-opened to PEI potatoes.