The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has released a report on an investigation of the potato wart crisis on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Since last year’s end to a temporary ban on PEI potatoes into the U.S., Kam Quarles, President of the National Potato Council, says APHIS has found the infestation is likely larger than previously reported.
“Effectively, what this report says is that there has to be wholesale changes in how PEI potatoes come into the United States in order to mitigate the risk that is really overwhelming based on the findings of this report.”
Quarles says the report justifies the previous ban. “It caused a lot of havoc for the U.S. industry just in terms of a lot of the cross-border trade that’s been done with PEI. But you’ve got to weigh that with the absolute doomsday scenario of potato wart getting into the U.S.”
And, Quarles says we can’t let that happe. “We don’t have this disease. If we did have it, the impact across the U.S., and particularly for our export markets would be absolutely catastrophic. So, all options have got to be on the table.”
Quarles and the NPC say current potato wart mitigation efforts are insufficient.