Published online: Dec 12, 2008 Alan Harman
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The USDA has revised the import requirements for Canadian seed potatoes as the Canadian government reports it is making progress towards regaining market access for Alberta seed potato exports to the U.S.

Agriculture Canada says in a statement the Canada-U.S. Potato Committee has put forward a resolution as the basis for the USDA's modifications on its import requirements for Canadian seed potatoes.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is working with Alberta producers to meet these requirements in order to resume normal trade with the U.S.

Alberta is not eligible to export seed potatoes to the U.S., but the revised U.S. import requirements would allow the import of Alberta seed potatoes once the CFIA completes an ongoing potato cyst nematode (PCN) delimiting survey in Alberta and all results are negative.

"As per the PCN Phytosanitary Guidelines, if PCN is detected in delimiting survey samples, appropriate regulatory actions will be taken," the statement says. "Resulting activities can range from trace-back/trace-forward investigations to further delimitation depending on the details of the find."

If this were to occur, the CFIA and the USDA will meet to establish the response and conditions for the movement of seed potatoes destined to the U.S.

Seed potatoes from all other Canadian provinces, except Alberta and any regulated areas, remain eligible for export to the U.S. provided PCN surveys are carried out in accordance with the PCN Phytosanitary Guidelines and all results are negative.

The newly revised U.S. import requirements mean soil samples associated with tuber samples of 500 tubers or less will now need to be completed by Dec. 31.

"The CFIA is taking all actions necessary to fully comply with the newly revised U.S. import requirements," the Canadian statement says. "The agency has also taken measures to expedite the analysis of all PCN soil samples and has prioritized analyses associated with the on-going delimiting survey in Alberta."

The revised U.S. import requirements will remain in place until the PCN Phytosanitary Guidelines are amended. This revision will take place once the final report from the Independent International Science Panel on PCN is submitted in December. At that time, the CFIA and USDA, in full consultation with industry representatives, will work together to make the necessary amendments to the present guidelines.