Summit Over; What About Potatoes?

Published online: Apr 23, 2001
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The Summit of the Americas is over but what came out of the meeting that will help/hinder potato growers.

For one thing, according to an article in The Guardian, Charlottetown, PEI, newspaper, Prince Edward Island growers did not get resolution of their potato wart fungus dilemma.

Despite the fact the Summit was held on Canadian soil and it appeared the Canadian government would get a hearing, grower/leaders came away disappointed.

"It's gone way by any type of frustration," an exasperated Ivan Noonan, general manager of the PEI Potato Board, said. "It's just an absolute joke. The Americans made a joke out of Canada at the Summit over the whole issue. They've done it since day one and they just continue to."

"And, we keep saying, `yes sir, no sir, three bags full'.that's all it is. It is a joke now," Noonan said.

After International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew met with U.S. Sec. Of Agriculture Ann Veneman, he told reporters there was no good news. Prime Ministere Jean Chretien raised the matter in a meeting with Pres. George Bush on Friday. Bush didn't make any promises, but said they're working on the matter, the Canadian report stated.

Noonan says he can't figure out how it's now back in the hands of the ministers after Bush and Chretien already had discussed the potato wart matter. Canadians wanted a list of conditions Friday from the U.S. for opening the border.

Pettigrew refused to speculate on conclusions scientists from each country would reach in a meeting scheduled in a few days. He ruled out the idea of a retaliatory strike.

What has turned into a name-calling, finger-pointing dispute between Canadian and U.S. growers over potatoes moving across the border could be multiplied many times as the 34 representatives of America nations agreed to all-out free trade (with accompanying disputes) by 2005.