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Containment Plan Announced for PCN-Affected Area in Idaho

The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced a plan Aug. 29 to stop the spread of potato cyst nematode (PCN) in Idaho.

The restrictions affect Bingham and Bonneville counties, which include the town of Shelley in eastern Idaho. The two confirmed cases of PCN were from fields near Shelley. Potato growers in the area are encouraged to have their fields sampled.

The movement of crops and equipment is regulated only inside the two Idaho counties, where APHIS and ISDA inspectors can issue a certificate or limited permit to move crops and machinery. Growers that have completed the inspection process would be able to move their products with minimal restrictions, according to an ISDA statement.

The restrictions are a positive step for dealing with PCN, said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. He called it a “rational, logical and science-based” approach, and applauded Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns for the way it’s being handled.

Muir said the end result of the restrictions would be more open markets. Four international markets remain closed to potato imports because of the PCN finding: Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea. Singapore ended imports after the initial finding, but has since reopened.

Progress is being made to open foreign markets. Canadian officials have visited the area twice and Japanese officials recently made their first visit, Muir said.

“Both left with a very favorable impression.”

For more technical information regarding the PCN regulations in Idaho, call Michael Cooper or Thomas Dayley with ISDA at (208) 332-8620.

Originally posted Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006

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