Maine Officials say ‘Hold On There’

Published online: Nov 12, 2002
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If the cure is worse than the disease, then why fight it?

That is the summation of the Maine Potato Board this week as they have asked the USDA APHIS to put a hold on restrictions for the 2002 crop until an economic impact analysis of the potato Mop-top Virus is complete.

The Board is skeptical of the proposed survey to determine the virus’ spread. It is a soil organism so if a field is clean there is no worry. An expensive survey to check potato seed might not reach any conclusions.

In addition, Maine potato officials said it would cost over $100,000 to test 3,000 tubers from each state. Only $10,000 was apportioned from the USDA to run the tests.

The Board wrote a letter to Sec. Of Agriculture Ann Veneman expressing the points. No answer has yet been received.

The issue is expected to be high on the agenda of the seed potato industry as it meets in Portland, ME, Dec. 5-7 at the annual National Potato Council Seed Seminar. Maine officials asked that no final decisions on testing protocols or interim rules be made until APHIS has met with the industry.