The federal agriculture minister has said there will be no exports of Island seed potatoes until at least 2023.
The agency has said seed potatoes carry a greater risk of spreading potato wart because they are not washed and sprout inhibited, the way table stock potatoes are before shipping.
P.E.I. Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson said the new program aligns with the province’s goal of improving soil health, through a strategy called soil first farming.
‘Gives them a year’
Growers can also apply for funding for perennial crops that they extend for another season, instead of planting seed potatoes. Eligible fields would only qualify if they planted crops such as timothy, clover, alfalfa, in the previous year.
Thompson said growers can also opt to plant cash crops, but those won’t qualify for the program.
Thompson said many of the crops also sequester carbon, as an added benefit.
The P.E.I. Potato Board, as well as some seed producers, were involved in creating the new program.
“We need to sustain those seed farms, and this program will provide an opportunity for them to to cover some of the costs that are lost, some of their fixed costs, with not being able to sell off the Island,” said board general manager Greg Donald.
“That’s most important, is to sustain those seed farms, but at the same time get other benefits as well.”
“It’ll certainly be a help,” he said.
Planting decisions made
Donald said the timing of the new program may limit how many growers are able to take part.
“Decisions may have already been made and also plans since last fall, so, for some, the timing may not be ideal as well — but it’s certainly welcome news,” Donald said.
“It was just announced so we haven’t had a lot of feedback, although some of our seed producers did have input into it. I think it’s favourable, but they’re looking into it and seeing how it will work on their farm.”
The P.E.I. agriculture minister said he hopes the new program will help Island seed growers make it through this season, while CFIA continues to collect the 35,000 plus soil samples needed to make the case for allowing the export of seed potatoes to resume.
“Seed growing is kind of a niche market. It’s not something that they can change easily,” Thompson said.
“I’d like to see them stay in the industry, but they have to make that business decision for themselves, and this gives them an opportunity to take their time on that business decision.”
Credit belongs to : ca.news.yahoo.com