Canada has completed an important step to eventually resume fresh potato exports to the United States from the province of Prince Edward Island, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Friday.
Canada unilaterally halted shipments in November from the province after finding potato wart fungus on two farms in October, the first in 21 years.
Ottawa will spend $ 28 million to help PEI address the U.S. potato export ban.
The United States had said it would ban all imports of fresh potatoes from the province unless Canada took more action, a move Ottawa says would be difficult to repeal.
An American demand was that Canada look for warts in potato seed fields. These are exported and then grown to maturity and the risk of contagion would be higher if they had the wart.
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The CFIA conducted a national survey that found no warts on potato seeds in fields not regulated by Ottawa. This, he said, was information Washington wanted.
“(This) was turned over to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service earlier today, and should serve to assure them that it is safe to resume the fresh potato trade,” the CFIA said in a statement.
“We do not anticipate that it will lead to any immediate change to the current ban,” he added, saying Washington was seeking other information. This, the CFIA said, could take months to provide.
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The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service did not respond to a request for comment. Friday is a public holiday in the United States.
The potato wart may decrease crop yields, but it does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, says the CFIA.
Prince Edward Island grew about 20 percent of the national crop in 2020. The crop is worth more than C $ 1 billion ($ 781 million) annually to the province’s economy.