Maine: `Growers Scared To Death'

Published online: Nov 10, 2000
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Despite objections from potato officials in Prince Edward Island, Can., to the indefinite ban on all shipments of PEI potatoes to the United States, Canadians remind themselves that it will only mean losing 8 percent of their market.

Many Canadians are saying the whole thing is political, that Maine is retaliating because its seed potatoes were shut out of PEI. Mike Corey, executive director of the Maine Potato Board said it was nonsense. "We're all scared to death."

According to Dr. Ken Proudfoot, Newfoundland expert on the newly discovered potato wart virus now found in PEI, "We don't want to lose that. Toronto consumes more of our potatoes than all of the U.S."

Proudfoot said steps have been taken to contain the small finding to a one-acre field; all equipment was disinfected; potatoes processed; scientists are examining 40 samples from the affected and surrounding fields, and a cover crop will be planted.

"We're trying to identify the route the fungus took to get to this field and trying to determine how far it might have spread," Proudfoot continued.