Prince Edward Island, Can., growers are getting very tired of the continued testing and re-testing of their produce and soils for the potato wart fungus.
One grower stated, "We've been tested beyond belief. This is going too far." He was speaking of rumors the United States plans to discount PEI testing for 2001 because of the drought-the worst in 50 years.
The U.S. reportedly is claiming there were not normal growing conditions, so plan to add another year to 2004 before granting a clean bill of health to PEI potatoes. It is estimated that this will cost Canada another million dollars, bringing total costs to $4 million.
Meanwhile growers are being told to keep a very close eye on their stored potatoes because of the unusually warm harvest weather. Growers have been told not to depend totally on electronic instruments but should frequently physically check their crop.
PEI's legislative Agriculture Committee meetings to get to the bottom of the potato wart issue are scheduled for next week. However, several officials have declined an invitation to testify. This includes witnesses like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Ag Canada officials. The PEI Opposition leader says they should be subpoenaed.
Growers will get a compensation package of $400,000 to $700,000 for the extra costs of cleaning and disinfecting for the potato wart last year.