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Potato Cyst Nematode Not Detected in Alberta, Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed the testing of Alberta seed potato fields for 2007. Results from over 8700 soil samples have not confirmed the presence of a detectable potato cyst nematode (PCN) population, according to the agency.

Soil samples were collected and tested for PCN as part of the joint PCN certification protocol for all seed potatoes traded between Canada and the United States, an agreement signed by the CFIA and USDA in March 2007. Additional soil samples were collected and tested over the past three months after test results indicated the possible presence of PCN in two fields in northern Alberta.

Following the initial positive test results from October 2007, the CFIA immediately placed internationally-recognized control measures on the implicated farms to prevent the potential spread of PCN.

CFIA and USDA placed temporary restrictions on the movement of potatoes from Alberta to the U.S. in November pending soil test results. On December 3, Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) imposed temporary restrictions prohibiting the import of seed potatoes and potatoes for consumption and processing originating from Alberta.

The recently-completed testing was part of an investigation initiated by the CFIA to provide domestic and international industry groups and trading partners with the assurances they required to maintain and restore market access for Alberta potato farmers. At this time, neither the U.S. nor Mexico has indicated that they will lift their temporary trade restrictions. The CFIA is continuing its discussions with the USDA and SAGARPA and has provided them with all requested information to achieve a resolution to these temporary trade restrictions as quickly as possible and to reduce them to a smaller area of Alberta.

PCN does not pose a risk to human health, but is considered a quarantine pest. If left unmanaged, PCN could cause a significant reduction in the yields of host crops such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants.

Programs are in place to provide farmers with access to financial assistance for farm income losses, including those caused by the regulatory measures imposed following suspect findings of PCN.

The CFIA, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Province of Alberta continue to work with growers, the implicated agricultural sectors, industry and Canada’s trading partners to respond to this issue and to protect Canadian farmers.

Originally posted Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008

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