Alberta Seed Growers Answer Back

Published online: Jul 21, 2004 PGA
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Alberta, Canada, seed potato growers answered charges against them in a special press release from Vern Warkentin, manager of Potato Growers of Alberta Tuesday.

Warkentin and the PGA say the purpose of their lawsuit in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta initiated because of a lawsuit concerning bacterial ring rot has been the subject of much misinformed comment in the media and in the United States potato industry.

Warkentin says the purpose of the suit is not to suppress the release of information connected with seed potato certification by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Canada or otherwise.

He says the purpose is to control and limit the potentially injurious effects arising from the use of certain CFIA seed potato certification information from several Alberta growers in a Washington state lawsuit pending against a member of the PGA.

Warkentin says the improper use of such information could prejudice the regulations and standards used by the CFIA in the certification of all Canadian seed potatoes for domestic and export use and disrupt the agricultural policy agreements and initiatives of the Canadian and U.S. governments.

He says the PGA commenced the lawsuit arising from a concern that the qualilty of the Canadian inspection, testing and certification protocol for seed potatoes implemented by the CFIA, was subject to criticism in the Washington lawsuit.

"If the Washington plaintiff is successful on this basis, the Washington Court judgement would set a precedent adversely affecting the ability of Canadian seed potato producers to rely upon the Canadian seed potato certification process, thus eviscerating the Canadian seed potato certification standards," he explained.

PGA believes that issues with respect to standards used by the potato industry between the two countries should be dealt with through the normal inter-governmental channels that already exist.

He says then potato and seed potato producers in the two countries would be reassured their interests are fully addressed as opposed to a private lawsuit potentially affecting or dictating agricultural policy.

Further, he says the PGA was mistakenly named as one of several applicants in proceedings commenced in the Federal Court of Canada dealing with the potential release under the Access to Information Act of the same CFIA information that is the subject matter of PGA's Alberta lawsuit.

He says the PGA was inappropriately included in the Federal Court proceedings on the mistaken belief it was necessary to ensure the CFIA information was not prematurely released thereby rendering the Alberta lawsuit moot.

"Steps are under way to remove the PGA from the Federal Court Access to Infomation Act proceedings. Those procedings will continue in the names of the several individual seed potato producers whose information the CFIA possesses which is the subject matter of the Alberta lawsuit and who fully supports the efforts of the PGA in the Alberta litigation."

Warkentin says the PGA continues to work with the integrated potato industry in both Canada and the United States to ensure the effective production and marketing of potato crops of the highest qualilty in both countries as it has in the past.

The PGA is a non-profit commission which initiates programs to improve the production and marketing of potatoes. The PGA is upset that public commentary in the United States discredits the PGA and Alberta seed potatoes. This is an implication that the PGA is attempting to hide a bacertial ring rot problem in Alberta.

Warkentin says Alberta seed potatoes remain of the highest quality, as evident in all of the satisfied buyers of Alberta seed potatoes in both the United States and Canada.