Prince Edward Island potato growers are using snow blowers to cut up and spread potatoes on their fields. The remaining potatoes are sent to food banks.
The reduction efforts were forced by the appearance this past fall of the potato fungus Potato Wart. This fungus is one of the most dreaded in the industry and caused the United States to block the borders to PEI potatoes.
Of PEI's 600 growers eligible for compensation under the $15 million government diversion program, 332 have applied for compensation. Growers can divert 10 percent of their 2000 crop.
A number of growers who have contracts with processors have opted not to apply at this time to make sure the growers who need the financial help get it. Compensation checks are now being issued.
Most growers are confident there will be federal compensation. PEI Fed. Rep. Wayne Easter says any assistance will have to come out of the existing farm emergency programs to "ensure the United States doesn't attack new assistance as an unfair trade subsidy."
PEI Potato Board General Manager Ivan Noonan said, "We're the only country that has reduced subsidies to primary producers in the first place. And, we're the only one playing by the rules. If everyone played by the rules we wouldn't be in this mess."