U.S. Industry Calls for Suspension of All PEI Exports Over Latest Wart Find

Potato wart detected in two fields growing processing potatoes

As reported previously, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced the suspension of seed potato exports from Prince Edward Island (PEI) to the United States after potato wart was detected in two fields where potatoes were being grown for processing.

In response, this week NPC and 13 state potato organizations sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for the U.S. government’s support to prevent the spread of potato wart to the United States by suspending the importation of all potatoes grown in PEI, not just seed potatoes.

Noting that CFIA’s efforts were a positive first step, the group argued that the Canadian government’s action does not appear to comprehensively address the situation as “the most recent detections are in processing fields, not seed fields. Furthermore, CFIA does not appear to be instituting any new measures for other Canadian provinces receiving potatoes or equipment from PEI.”

The group noted that should potato wart be transmitted to the United States, the U.S. potato industry would likely lose access to all international fresh potato markets, costing the industry over $225 million in annual sales.

They wrote, “Recognizing the potential impact and the clear evidence through repeated detections that PEI’s potato wart disease situation is not under control, we urge USDA to undertake the following preventive measures;

  1. Immediately suspend all exports of potatoes to the U.S. from PEI to address the most recent area of detection.
  2. Restrict equipment working in PEI potato fields from crossing the border into the U.S.
  3. Engage with CFIA to limit the ability for PEI potatoes to inadvertently transmit potato wart disease through other provinces via seed, equipment, or other pathways.”

The full letter can be found here.