Representatives from the United States and Canada are expected to meet Friday to discuss the recent ban of U.S. potatoes in Canada.
For years, U.S. potatoes have been chomped up in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island (PEI), considered a prime farm location along the border between the two countries.
But earlier this month, the province’s agriculture minister said an unnamed U.S. company produced an unsanitary potato that was threatening the economy of PEI. Before banning the shipment of potatoes to the island, Canadian officials were reportedly testing pints from the plants for salmonella and other pathogens.
State officials, meanwhile, allege the potential strain tested positive for E. coli as well.
The economic ramifications are significant. One American potato farmer on the island said the production of potatoes is more lucrative there than in the United States and buys equipment, prepares housing and hires workers on the island.
“The economic impacts would be considerable,” Donald Haimi, the governor of PEI, told Canadian broadcaster CTV News.
Haimi also said that Canadian officials were taking steps to quickly identify the “problem” that would allow the potatoes to move again.
As of now, the United States and Canada remain at an impasse. In a statement released on Thursday, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it had set dates for the meeting with officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, in response to a request from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“At this time we do not believe Canada has provided information or full detail as to why their response in blocking U.S. potatoes in PEI was inadequate,” he said in the statement.
Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay, meanwhile, suggested that Canada could temporarily ban shipments of potatoes from other states in order to fill the gap left by the lifting of the ban on those products on PEI.
Asked if any other states might be affected, Mr. MacAulay suggested only “a few” different states.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs confirmed the meeting with U.S. representatives will take place at the Canadian embassy in Washington at 11 a.m. on Friday.
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