Potato Board takes over potato disinfection

Teresa Wright
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Service costs about $500,000 a year with government picking up $375,000 of the tab

Potato disinfection will go on in P.E.I., in spite of a controversial cut in funding from the provincial government.

The P.E.I. Potato Board is stepping in to take over management of this program, Premier Wade MacLauchlan revealed in his annual year-end interview with The Guardian,

“They’re quite willing to take the initiative and to pick up the program and to have it done through the industry, which in fact is how it’s done in all of the other provinces,” MacLauchlan told The Guardian this week.

Island potato growers were blindsided by the government’s decision to cancel the disinfection program - designed to keep bacterial ring rot at bay due to an apparent stalemate with the P.E.I. Potato Board.

The board had declined to pay the lead share of the 60/40 per cent funding arrangement, something executive director Greg Donald described as an “ultimatum.”

The service costs about $500,000 a year with government picking up $375,000 of the tab and the $10 a truck spray fees raising the other $125,000.

The issue sparked heated debate in the legislature last month, with members of MacLauchlan’s own Liberal caucus publicly raising concern over negative effects on the province’s lucrative potato industry as a result of government not running this program, notably on potato exports.

Until now, the province has provided the lion’s share of the funding for potato disinfection services for the last 30 years.

MacLauchlan says the potato board will take the lead in running this program.

“We were asking the potato industry and the potato board and the community to pick up a larger share of the costs of some of those programs and that’s in fact how that has unfolded and will continue into the future,” he said.

“In the process we learned it really is the seed potato that is most in need of protection through the disinfection program, so in effect the total amount that is spent on disinfection will be substantially reduced because of the process of working together.”

Board executive director Greg Donald declined comment for this story, as final details are still being worked out among the board and industry partners.

He noted a news release would likely be issued early next week.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: P.E.I. Potato Board, The Guardian

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  • Just Sayin
    December 19, 2015 - 10:33

    So the government still pays 75% of the cost. That must have taken some very hard negotiation on MacLauchlan's part to negotiate their 60% up to 75%....What an astute and harsh negotiator!