Last Tuesday, NPC issued a statement in response to news of the resumption of trade of table stock potatoes from Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, into Puerto Rico:
“The National Potato Council welcomes the safe resumption of trade between PEI and Puerto Rico that will allow the province’s growers to market their 2021 crop. We trust USDA and CFIA have put plans in place to strictly prohibit the resale of fresh potatoes to the mainland in order to prevent the potential spread of disease to U.S. potato farms. Looking forward, the U.S. potato industry anticipates the fulfillment of CFIA’s commitment to conduct 35,000 soil tests for the disease in PEI to ensure it has identified which fields are cleared for export. That precursor will allow resumption of trade with PEI and the United States, consistent with the best available science,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles.
Potato wart is not present in the United States. If it were allowed to become established in U.S. potato production areas in the future, the direct costs would likely be more than $300 million annually and billions more annually in indirect damage.
In a statement released by USDA, Secretary Vilsack said, “It is critical that we base our agricultural trade decisions on sound science. After considering Puerto Rico’s low risk for potato wart due to climate conditions, as well as the lack of a commercial potato production industry on the island, we are confident that with appropriate mitigations in place this trade can resume safely, and the U.S. potato industry will remain protected.”