Published online: May 05, 2008 Alan Harman
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The Canadian government has reached an agreement with the United States to immediately resume the export of Alberta seed potatoes to the U.S.

This agreement has been made through the establishment of revised potato cyst nematode (PCN) phytosanitary guidelines which outline requirements for PCN containment, risk mitigation, soil sampling and testing.

Through the agreement, some Alberta seed potatoes from the 2007 crop may qualify for export to the U.S. if necessary PCN soil sampling and testing requirements are fulfilled.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) now is working with stakeholders and growers to prioritize the soil sampling and testing for Alberta seed potatoes from the 2007 crop that could still be exported to the U.S.

According to certification requirements, full-field soil sampling in grid patterns must be used for potatoes bound for the U.S. Additionally, all land used to produce seed potatoes in a province or state with an area regulated for PCN, or a new PCN detection, must be soil sampled and tested for PCN.

In the fall of 2007, during routine PCN testing to meet U.S. import requirements, the CFIA identified the presence of PCN in two soil samples from two different farm units in northern Alberta. CFIA has tested more than 19,400 soil samples from all 2007 Alberta seed potato fields and from all seed potato producing provinces without any other positive results for PCN.

The CFIA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also announced modified guidelines to allow for the continued trade of potatoes should there be future detections of PCN in either the U.S. or Canada.