Federal Agriculture Minister ‘working extremely hard’ To Resume Fresh Potato Trade With U.S.



Kevin Yarr & Arturo Chang | CBC News

Ending a suspension of trade in fresh potatoes from P.E.I. to the United States is a top priority for the Canadian government, says federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

The trade suspension was ordered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Monday, following the discovery of potatoes infected with potato wart in two P.E.I. fields in October. Bibeau told CBC’s Island Morning host Mitch Cormier she understands how important potatoes are for the P.E.I. economy and even the identity of Islanders.

“I really get it, and I am working extremely hard with the team to solve the situation as soon as possible,” said Bibeau.

“I am confident that we will convince the Americans that our fresh potatoes are safe, they do not present a risk for their soil, for their land. And they desperately need our very high-quality potatoes as well.”

Potato wart disfigures potatoes and reduces crop yield, but is not a threat to human health. The U.S. lists it as a serious threat to agriculture.

CFIA implemented the suspension to forestall a ban from the American side. Bibeau said she feels trade will resume more quickly if trade is stopped from the Canadian side of the border.

“I know that it hurts, but I prefer to keep control on our Canadian side than be subjected to an American ban,” she said.

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