The potato wart crisis situation in PEI has highlighted the need to manage and contain this disease to meet international obligations and preserve export market access for Canada.
To help prevent spread of potato wart to other parts of Canada and maintain export markets, the Government of Canada has announced a series of measures to support PEI potato farmers who have been impacted. These included:
- 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. AgriStability interim payments have increased, so that producers can now apply for up to 75% of their anticipated payment, up from 50%.
- A Stay of Default for 2021 outstanding potato advances has been granted to provide producers with additional flexibility to repay an estimated $20 million in advance payments at the request of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA). Potato producers who received support from PEIFA’s 2021 Advance Payment Program (APP) and are in good standing are eligible for the Stay of Default. The requirement for these producers to provide proof of sale is being waived, which will allow them to repay their advances using any source of funds without incurring a penalty, including their 2022 APP advance.
- AgriInvest program, a self-managed producer-government savings account designed to help farmers manage small income declines and make investments to manage risk and improve market income. AgriInvest balances are available at any time to support income declines.
- $28 million for the Surplus Potato Management Response plan to support potato producers in Prince Edward Island affected by trade disruptions related to the outbreak of potato wart. These funds support the diversion of surplus potatoes to processors, packers and food banks, and other markets, and provided support for costs associated with environmentally-sound destruction of surplus potatoes. AAFC is working with the Government of PEI, the PEI Potato Board, national food bank organizations and other stakeholder groups to deliver the funding.
- $12M over two years proposed under Budget 2022 to support ongoing efforts to address the potato wart situation on Prince Edward Island (PEI).
- This funding will allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to: increase its soil collection and testing capacity; complete investigations into the most recent findings of potato wart on PEI; and, help prevent its spread within Canada or abroad to protect Canada’s plant resource base as well as preserve market access and trade arrangements. The intent is to hire in excess of 35 full-time equivalents, including 25 full-time equivalent employees located in PEI.
- Compensation under the Potato Wart Compensation Regulations (PWCR) for specific, confirmed losses due to compliance with notices issued under the Plant Protection Act (PPA) or Plant Protection Regulations (PPR) for treatment, prohibition, restriction, or disposition related to potato wart. Under the authorities of the PPR, the CFIA will be issuing notices to dispose of some seed potatoes from the 2021 crop. Growers who receive a notice from the CFIA to dispose product may be eligible for compensation under the PWCR. Between the first potato wart detection in 2000 and December 31, 2021, compensation paid under the PWCR was approximately $6.2 million. The CFIA is preparing to issue the notices to dispose, and has provided further details on compensation for seed potato growers.
- Over $180,000 in loan deferrals from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
- Investments in various projects to support the sector, including $700,000 to develop the PEI Potato Industry Market Diversification and Recovery Plan, as well as a $600,000 investment in RWL Holdings Ltd. to increase potato washing capacity and help the sector find new markets.
- Budget 2022 also proposes $16M over two years to support long-term investments to assist in stabilizing the Prince Edward Island potato sector and supply chain.
Furthermore, to help resolve the issue as quickly as possible, the Government of Canada conducted extensive engagement with the U.S. government at all levels. On January 27, Ministers’ Bibeau and MacAulay went to Washington, DC to meet with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and underscore the importance of restoring market access for PEI potatoes for Canada and Islanders, while also emphasizing the urgency of the situation. The Ministers and Secretary Vilsack agreed to remain closely engaged on the matter and reopen the continental U.S. market for table stock potatoes as quickly as possible.
On February 8, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the resumption of trade in table stock potatoes from Prince Edward Island to Puerto Rico, and on April 1, 2022, the U.S. announced the reopening of the entire U.S. market for PEI potatoes for consumption.