PGA Says Question Need Not Be Court-tested

Published online: Dec 23, 2004
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Potato Growers of Alberta said today they believe the question by Washington state over the supposed purchase of seed potatoes from Alberta with bacterial ring rot should not be through individual lawsuits.

Vern Warkentin, executive director of PGA in Taber, AB, said that although the Court of Queen's Bench released a decision that records in the possession of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should be released for use in a lawsuit in Washington state, that it maintains the forum for addressing policy and standards in this integrated industry is through existing intergovernmental channels created for that purpose.

Warkentin said the PGA accept the judge's decision even though they oppose the release of the records. "The PGA acted in the best interests of its members and pursued the only opportunity available to guard against the possibility that a U.S. lawsuit could disrupt or interrupt access to American markets by Canadian seed potato producers.

"While the Court accepted the PGA's submissions that 'public interest immunity' potentially could apply should the records be misused, in the balance Judge Langston ruled that a full and proper adjudication of the case in Washington state surpassed this possibililty."

Warkentin said Alberta is Canada's largest exporter of seed potatoes. Major markets are the United States and Mexico. He says Alberta seed producers have been exporting seed known for its high-quality, high-yield and disease-resistant properties for more than 20 years.