The weight of more federal ministers in Atlantic Canada will be brought to bear in resolving how to open the Prince Edward Island border to potato exports to the U.S.
Background: Inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the presence of potato wart in two fields on the island in fall 2021. Despite a 20-year potato wart management plan, the U.S. refused to accept seed and fresh potatoes until more scientific information is forthcoming. The U.S. threatened to close the border, but in response, the CFIA banned exports valued at $120 million annually on the premise that the dispute would be easier to manage from the Canadian side.
The new ministerial committee is in addition to the Government-Industry Working Group which is co-chaired by Fred Gorrell, a former assistant deputy minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and leader of the Market Access Secretariat and by Greg Donald, general manager of the PEI Potato Board.
Committee members include Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; and the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. MP Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, who represents a Greater Toronto Area riding, also joins the group.
The January 7. 2022 news release says that the Committee will examine a range of issues, such as updates on the technical discussions to provide scientific assurance to the United States, the delivery of programs to support farmers, the progress of the Industry-Government Potato Working Group, and advocacy efforts to access international markets. The first meeting will take place the week of January 10, 2022.
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada January 7, 2022 news release
UPDATED January 11, 2022.