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Federal court hears application regarding P.E.I. seed potatoes



CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Ottawa’s choice to ban P.E.I. seed potato exports was not based mostly on science however moderately was based mostly on stress from the U.S., legal professionals for the P.E.I. Potato Board argued March 23, in Federal Court docket.

The Federal Court docket arguments in Charlottetown concerned the potato board’s software for a judicial assessment towards the Canadian Meals Inspection Company (CFIA) and the minister of agriculture and agri-food relating to authorities selections, together with a ministerial order, that prohibited the motion of P.E.I. seed potatoes inside Canada and to the U.S. 

On Oct. 1 and Oct. 14, 2021, the CFIA confirmed the presence of potato wart on two farms in P.E.I. Consequently, on Nov. 2, 2021, the CFIA suspended seed potato exports from P.E.I. to the U.S. This was adopted by a ministerial order by Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, on Nov. 21, 2021, that banned exports not solely to the U.S. but in addition inside Canada.

Duncan Boswell, a lawyer representing the P.E.I. Potato Board, stated the federal authorities’s selections in November 2021 to ban P.E.I. seed potato exports had been illegal, unreasonable and unfair. Boswell stated potato wart has solely been discovered on 35 of the province’s 10,000 potato fields – or 0.4 per cent – up to now 20 years. Even with the 2 potato wart discoveries in 2021, Boswell stated the ministerial declaration that P.E.I. as a complete was “infested” with potato wart and the selections to ban exports weren’t supported by science or goal info however moderately on “improper issues,” comparable to stress from the U.S.

Sarah Drodge, a lawyer representing the federal authorities, stated the 2 potato wart detections in October 2021 occurred in a brief time frame and launched a bigger investigation that included an extra 350 fields in P.E.I. to find out if the an infection had unfold. These investigations are nonetheless ongoing, she stated. She added that potato wart was found on a class of farmland that was deemed to be the bottom stage of threat. These fields had been already topic to soil testing underneath a administration plan. But it surely wasn’t testing that led to the detections however moderately the observations by growers of the wart seen on tubers. Given the circumstances, she stated these detections had been a “recreation changer.”

Drodge additionally reminded the courtroom that the CFIA represents all of Canada and never simply P.E.I.

With respect to the arguments that the choice was motivated by stress from the U.S., Drodge famous that the CFIA is required to think about the considerations of its buying and selling companions.

After studying of the detection of potato wart in P.E.I., the U.S. communicated to the CFIA in November 2021 its intention to amend a federal order that might ban potato imports from all of Canada if export certifications weren’t suspended on P.E.I. The U.S. order would come with not simply seed potatoes but in addition desk inventory and processing potatoes.

“The U.S. is a sovereign nation. We won’t drive them to take potatoes that they do not need,” defined Drodge.

Desk inventory potato commerce to the U.S. resumed in April; nonetheless, seed potatoes are nonetheless banned.

The applying for a judicial assessment was filed on June 24. After listening to submissions, Choose Richard Southcott adjourned his choice on the applying to a later date. If the choose decides to strike down the ministerial order, it might probably permit P.E.I. to renew seed potato exports inside Canada.

Terrence McEachern is a justice reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] and may be adopted on Twitter @terry_mcn.

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