NPC and 13 state potato organizations sent a letter this week to USDA Deputy Secretary Osama El-Lissy thanking him and the staff at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for their rapid efforts to address the detection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) of the virulent potato wart disease (Synchytrium endobioticum) in two fields on a seed potato farm in Prince Edward Island (PEI) late last year.
Although, since then, CFIA has found no additional infected potato plants and feels comfortable in lifting their voluntary suspension of exports to the United States, the group writes that the lack of clear answers from CFIA does concern the U.S. potato industry.
“In the interest of ensuring that any threat from PEI continues to be mitigated,” states the letter, “we have the following questions about the process going forward:
- How will this incident cause CFIA to modify or enhance the annual reporting required for PEI in regard to their ongoing disease issues?
2 What additional investigations will be required on PEI to ensure that any threat from potato wart is minimized?
- Will CFIA conduct additional or ongoing surveys of potatoes derived from PEI seed, given that no domestic shipments were halted during the time that exports to the U.S. were suspended?”
The discovery of potato wart in the United States would have severe economic consequences, including loss of access to all international fresh potato markets, costing the industry over $225 million in annual exports.
The letter was signed by National Potato Council, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Empire State Potato Growers, Idaho Grower Shippers Association, Idaho Potato Commission, Maine Potato Board, Potato Growers of Michigan, North Carolina Potato Association, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, Oregon Potato Commission, Pennsylvania Co-Operative Potato Growers, Virginia Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Washington State Potato Commission, and Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.
The full letter can be found here.