MP joins call for lifting of export ban


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'PEI growers facing critical decisions'

CANADIAN politician John Barlow has joined those lashing out regarding a ban on imports.

The MP, who is Agriculture Critic for Canada's Conservative Party has said it's time to start shipping PEI (Prince Edward Island) potatoes back to the US mainland. He recently visited the island where he talked to growers, whom he described as frustrated and desperate. 

"They were expecting to hear some news on March 10th. That date has come and gone with no new news," he said.

At the end of November the Canadian Food Inspection Agency banned the export of PEI potatoes to the US following the detection of potato wart in two fields.

Potato wart is a serious agricultural pest, but not a danger to human health and has been known to be present on PEI since 2000, but a management plan developed with the US kept trade open for 20 years, until the ban last autumn. Potato Review has been following the issue since.

Exports to Puerto Rico were opened up last month, but the US mainland remains closed.

Farmers are facing critical decisions about spring planting, not knowing whether or not the border will reopen, the MP said. He said the federal government ordered the border closure because the American government was threatening to act on its own, and an American order would be more difficult to reverse.

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On his website, he stated: "In December, I highlighted the failure of the federal Agriculture Minister to find a resolution to the export ban on Prince Edward Island’s (PEI) world-class potatoes. More than three months later the Trudeau government still is no closer to a solution and PEI farmers are paying the price.

"The toll on farming families is devastating. As a result of our inability to export produce to the United States, more than 300 million pounds of potatoes have been destroyed or left to rot, and multi-year damage has been done to the potato seed industry. It is heartbreaking for PEI farmers to destroy what was a bumper crop, but now Liberal inaction has put next year’s season in jeopardy. The irreparable damage to the agriculture industry in PEI will be felt for generations to come.

"Every day, I hear from desperate families who have capably handled the issue of potato warts for years. These families feel completely abandoned by the federal Liberal government in Ottawa. Their livelihoods are being destroyed, and it’s clear the frustration, anger, and anxiety they are expressing is boiling over.

"I can’t blame them. Minister Bibeau has yet to visit PEI since the ban came into effect last November."

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