Mad Canadians May Retaliate

Published online: Apr 13, 2001
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Federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief of Canada has put the United States on notice that it will retaliate for the continued closure of the Canadian border to Prince Edward Island potatoes if action isn't taken.

Mitch Murphy, PEI ag minister, said he expects the United States to live up to its commitments to reopen the border and has given 24 hours to do so. That statement was made late Wednesday.

The ultimatum comes from Canada after U.S. officials denied offering a well-received plan to ship Island potatoes south of the border. PEI growers responded with relief when Vanclief told them the U.S. was prepared to reopen its market that had been closed since last October.

But U.S. officials repudiated Vanclief's interpretation of their offer, saying relaxation was not as far-reaching as he had said. Vanclief said he understood the U.S. offer but the Americans had changed position. He said the restrictions have no scientific basis that he can see.

Vanclief said there is no logic behind proposed conditions that would allow seed and bulk potatoes to move within Canada with dirt attached but would require consumer packs of potatoes in 50-pound or smaller bags to be washed and treated with sprout-inhibitors.

"It's clearly a protectionist measure that I believe they did after pressure from the American potato growers. I'm extremely disappointed."

The Canadian officials blamed the National Potato Council, which has put pressure on APHIS and, the USDA.