Dec 22, 2021
Canadian government to fund PEI growers $28 million to offset trade losses

Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $28 million in funding to support Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato farmers affected by trade disruptions caused by positive tests for potato wart.

This funding of up to $28 million will be used to support the diversion of surplus potatoes, including help to redirect surplus potatoes to organizations addressing food insecurity and support for the environmentally sound disposal of surplus potatoes. It will also support marketing activities and will help industry to develop long-term strategies to manage future challenges.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will work with the Government of PEI, the PEI Potato Board, national food bank organizations and other stakeholder groups to deliver the funding. Details on how producers can access support will be available through the coming weeks.

Producers also have access to a suite of other Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage issues. The Governments of Canada and PEI recently made adjustments to the AgriStability program, which protects producers against large declines in farming income, so that producers who did not enroll for the 2021 program year can sign-up now and still access this important income support. Furthermore, AgriStability interim payments have increased, so that producers can now apply for up to 75% of their anticipated payment, up from 50%.

The Government of Canada stands firmly on the science that indicates that the risks associated with the transmission of potato wart from fresh potatoes remains negligible when appropriate risk mitigation measures are in place. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will continue to make science-based data and details of its investigation into the October 2021 detections available to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to highlight the strengths of Canada’s Potato Wart Domestic Long Term Management Plan. Soil sampling and soil testing processes are taking place as quickly as possible.

While this work is underway, important collaboration continues through the Government-Industry Potato Working Group. It brings together key stakeholders of the PEI potato sector to exchange information, help mitigate impacts of potato wart on the sector, and identify potential short and long-term solutions to current trade disruptions. Fred Gorrell has been asked to be the new co-chair of the Potato Working Group. Gorrell is well known within the sector and comes with years of experience as a former Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and leader of the Market Access Secretariat.

Quick facts 

  • Potato wart is a soil-borne fungus that can remain dormant in a field for more than 40 years. It has no negative effects on human health or food safety; however, it has an impact on the economic return for potato growers by reducing yield and making potatoes unmarketable.
  • Producers have access to a suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm. These programs are 60/40 cost-shared between the federal government and the province.
  • PEI producers can now access up to 75% of their expected AgriStability payment on an interim basis. While over 80% of PEI potato farmers are already enrolled in AgriStability for 2021, all PEI producers now have access to the AgriStability program since the late participation provision is in effect.
  • AgriInsurance will provide support for farms that face production and quality losses directly caused by potato wart, with coverage for up to 90% of their losses.
  • In addition, AgriInvest funds are immediately available for use by producers to support any need they see fit. PEI potato producers widely participate in AgriInvest and average available balances are approximately $90,000.
  • The U.S. is a major destination for PEI potatoes, with approximately $103.4 million of total PEI table stock and processing potato exports in 2020.
  • Trade of processed potatoes is not affected by the suspension of export certification. In 2020, PEI’s processed potato exports (such as frozen fries or chips) to the United States were valued at $370.8 million.

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