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Canadian federal government invests in potato industry

More than $1.5 million being invested

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

Potatoes are the most important crop Prince Edward Island produces and the Canadian federal government is investing $1.5 million in the potato industry to address safety concerns.

"P.E.I.'s potato industry plays an important role in our Island's economy,” said The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who is also the Regional Minister for Prince Edward Island and Member of Parliament for Egmont. “Our Government recognizes the financial burden on farmers, packers and the overall industry this unlawful activity has created and we are pleased to respond with significant financial assistance toward the purchase of metal detection equipment. We will continue to work closely with industry on strategies and initiatives to help potato producers and industry maintain consumer confidence."

The unlawful activity Shea is referring to is the discovery that needles, nails and other metal objects were being placed inside potatoes – all of which police believe are suspected of coming from Linkletter Farms in Prince Edward Island. So far, metal objects have been found in potatoes across Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. As a result, about 800,000 pounds of potatoes have been destroyed or held from grocery stores.

Needle

"The production of safe, high quality potatoes has always been our top priority, and our farms have a high level of enrolment in the CanadaGAP food safety program,” said Alex Docherty, Chair of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. “The PEI Potato Board is working with the Government of Canada and the Province of Prince Edward Island to ensure the right strategies and technology are in place to help our farmers address the challenge posed by the criminal act of food tampering."

The government of PEI is also investing in safety measures by adding $500,000 to the federal government’s initial investment, bringing the total to $2 million.

There is also a $100,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the potato tampering.

PEI’s Potato Industry:

  • Harvested 87,500 acres of potatoes in 2012, totalling $257,470,000 in farm value.
  • Top five export markets for potatoes as of 2013 are Venezuela, United States, Thailand, Uruguay and Brazil. Venezuela imported more than 6,000 tonnes of potatoes, totalling more than $2.6 million.
  • The potato industry in PEI is worth more than $1 billion.
  • Over 60% of PEI potatoes are processed.
  • PEI produces russets, white, red, and yellow potatoes.

Tell us your thoughts about the government investment into potato safety.

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