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Potato Shipments to and from Canada to Resume

The temporary trade restrictions implemented by the United States and Canada after nematode detections in Idaho and Quebec have been lifted.

Trade restrictions were placed on potato shipments from Idaho after the April detection of the pale potato cyst nematode (PCN), and USDA placed restrictions on potato shipments from Quebec after golden nematode was detected in a field in August.

Canadian officials were in Idaho days after the PCN finding in April. Since then, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have worked together to resume shipments between the countries.

“It’s an indication of how well everyone worked together on this,” said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. “It all goes back to how this started. We found it (PCN) because we were looking for it.”

“This is how a crises should be handled. It shows the system is working.”

A 10,000-acre area in Idaho was quarantined after the PCN discovery. Testing is nearly complete on the entire area, and only five fields within a mile of each other have tested positive for PCN. Farm equipment used in an infested field likely spread the pest to the other fields. Potatoes can still be shipped out of the quarantine area, but they must be inspected first.

Japan, South Korea and Mexico still are not receiving potatoes from Idaho. Officials from Japan visited the affected area in August, and Mexican officials are expected to visit in October. Although three markets are still closed, the Canadian announcement is good news to growers.

“We’re extremely pleased that Canada has agreed to allow fresh potato shipments,” said Dave Smith of the Idaho Grower-Shipper Association.

Originally posted Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006

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