U.S. Suppliers Face Double Standard

Published online: Apr 16, 2003
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United States potential suppliers of potatoes to Canada claim they are being forced to meet a double standard with ministerial exemption permits.

The new Canadian Ministerial Exemption permit requires the applicant (in Canada) to sign his acceptance of the terms under which the ME is granted. If the applicant does not, or can’t agree to the terms, no permit is issued.

Terms bothersome to potential buyers state they will pressure-wash and disinfect trucks taking unwashed potatoes into Canada.

Suppliers in Washington and Oregon say it is interesting that potatoes imported from those states must be handled like they were a form of “nuclear waste.” On the other hand, seed purchases and potatoes going to the United States and other provinces are not subject to the same standards.

The most galling new rule is the one that importers cannot use off-grades in various processing lines. But bulk easements from other provinces with No. 2-grade potatoes can be sold as packaged product. Bulk imported No. 2-grade potatoes from the United States cannot be.

This prevents the use of off-grade imported potatoes in Canadian fresh-cut plants. The only place they can go is to dehy.

“This is a clear case of MEs crossing into areas beyond the intended scope. Off grades that go into dehy lines are generally the very cheapest of potatoes,” a spokesperson stated.

“The seller isn’t going to get rich on those kinds of transactions. With the advent of some very sophisticated fresh-cut potato products, obviously the price for those potatoes will be an improvement over dehy product.”

Some Canadian processor importers say the CFIA is meddling in the final destination of bulk imports. CFIA believes that if a Canadian plant takes potatoes from the United States to a Canadian fresh-cut plant, they risk the spread of the Columbia root knot nematode.

What could be behind the controversy is that rumors are now circulating in the United States that Canadian potato processors will not have adequate supplies for their plants. Now the question of using phytosanitary tariff barriers is apparently coming into play.