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PGA Responds to Judge’s Ruling in Ring Rot Case

After the ruling by an Alberta judge that Canadian Food Inspection Agency documents must be released to a Washington state potato grower, the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) responded, saying the group will accept the judge’s decision.

“We accept the Judge’s decision,” said Vern Warkentin, executive director of the PGA who opposed the release of the records, “and sincerely hope that the concerns we raised prove unfounded.”

The PGA acted in the best interests of its members and pursued the only opportunity available to guard against the possibility that a U.S. lawsuit could disrupt or interrupt access to American markets by Canadian seed potato producers, a PGA press release stated.

While the Court accepted the PGA’s submissions that “public interest immunity” potentially could apply should the records be misused, in the balance Judge Langston ruled that a full and proper adjudication of the case in Washington State surpassed this possibility, the release said.

The PGA maintains that the forum for addressing agricultural policy and standards in this integrated industry is through existing intergovernmental channels created specifically for the purpose – not through individual lawsuits.

Alberta is Canada’s largest exporter of seed potatoes, according to the release. Major markets are the United States and Mexico. Alberta seed producers have been exporting seed known for its high quality, high yield and disease-resistant properties for more than 20 years.

Originally posted Monday, Dec. 27, 2004

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