Aug 19, 2010
S. Korea reopens borders to Idaho potatoes

Good news for the Idaho’s fresh potato growers, South Korea has re-opened its markets for importation of Idaho potatoes.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Potato Commission recently issues press releases announcing that Idaho fresh potatoes, except for potatoes grown or packed in Bonneville or Bingham counties, will resume shipping fresh potatoes to South Korea after a four-year ban after the discovery of pale cyst nematode (PCN) in fields in Bonneville and Bingham.

The ban on Idaho potatoes was lifted effective July 29, following an on-site visit by a S. Korean nematologist to evaluate Idaho’s PCN program. South Korea imports roughly 17,000 tons of fresh potatoes annually to be used primarily in snack food manufacturing.

Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said that following the discovery of PCN in 2006 the nations of Mexico, Canada, S. Korea and Japan banned the importation of Idaho fresh potatoes.

“PCN has been something we’ve been looking for. So when we found it we were the ones that announced it and informed the USDA and our trading partners that we were going to take action to address it,” Muir said.

According to Muir more than 300,000 soil samples have been taken and tested for PCN throughout the state, anywhere potatoes are grown in Idaho.

In Bonneville and Bingham counties, 1,100 acres have been quarantined from growing any potatoes or similar vegetables for seven years and are currently being treated with methyl bromide.

Mexico and Canada reopened their borders to Idaho potatoes within the year of the discovery of PCN.

“That was actually fairly quick when you think in terms of how slow governments work, especially governments between nations,” Muir said.

Muir hopes to see Japan lift their ban on Idaho potatoes in the next several months. He said that the IPC is working in concert with the National Potato Council, the United States Potato Board and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in their efforts to lift the importation bans.

“We hope that now that Korea has opened its border that Japan will see that it’s in its best interests to open their border to Idaho fresh potatoes,” Muir said.






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