Federal and provincial governments announced an investment to help Alberta seed growers affected by Potato Cyst Nematode.
The announcement of up to $23.5 million in support was made by the Federal Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz and George Groeneveld, Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
"I am pleased to partner with the Government of Alberta to provide funding through AgriRecovery which will help potato growers through this difficult time," said Minister Ritz. "This Government has put flexible programs in place to help farmers when they face disaster."
"Alberta potato growers are a resilient group, but the impact of PCN has been especially severe," said Minister Groeneveld. "Provincially and federally, our governments remain committed to Alberta's potato industry and through this initiative we will continue to support our hard-working producers."
"This is a much anticipated announcement," said Edzo Kok, Executive Director of Potato Growers of Alberta. "Potato seed growers have been anxiously awaiting this compensation. We are very grateful to the federal and provincial governments for this support."
PCN is a soil borne pest which can lower the yield of potato plants and in severe cases can cause the plant to die. PCN can be easily spread through the transportation of infested soil, wind or floodwaters. The discovery of PCN resulted in border closures to the United States and Mexico for all seed potatoes from Alberta.
Up to $14.1 million federal and $9.4 million of provincial support will be available under the 2008 Alberta Seed Potato Assistance Program, through AgriRecovery.
The program will help growers cover extraordinary costs not covered under other programs including disposal of genetic plant stock, disposal costs to destroy inventory and compensation for loss of export market.
This funding is being made available through AgriRecovery, which allows governments to respond when disaster strikes and is one component of a new suite of Business Risk Management programs. Assistance is also available under AgriStability, which covers larger margin declines caused by production losses.
The initiative is cost-shared on a 60:40 basis between the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta. The Alberta Seed Potato Assistance Program was developed jointly by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Province of Alberta and will be delivered by Agriculture Financial Services Corporation.
Eligible growers will be notified directly of the assistance available to them under this program.
Editor's note: Freelance writer Alan Harman connected the magazine with this article.