New Legislation to Help Manitoba Potato Growers Sell Products

Published online: Mar 07, 2022 Articles
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Source: CBC News

The Manitoba government says it wants to make it easier for agricultural producers who grow potatoes and root crops to find buyers for their products.

The province said Thursday it is introducing legislation in response to concerns that red tape has prevented the sector from growing.

In a news release, Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson said farmers have been restricted in the amount of crops they can grow and limited in the number of prospective buyers they can sell the crops to. That will change under the proposed legislation changes, he said.

The current regulations and production quotas in Manitoba have been aimed at maintaining stable pricing in the domestic market, but some producers have found them too restrictive, the province's release said.

Bill 12, titled the Peak of the Market Reorganization Act, would remove red tape for table potato and root crop producers across Manitoba, the province says.

Under the legislation, Peak of the Market — a grower-owned agency that markets vegetables to retailers — will be allowed to modernize its business to promote, sell and distribute the province's table potatoes and root crops throughout the world, Johnson said.

Paul Adriaansen, the owner of Spud Plains Farms in southwestern Manitoba, is a big fan of the province's announcement.

His farm isn't in the table potato industry — it grows potato seeds — but he thinks the changes are "a good thing for the province." 

"It'll open up some opportunities for some other guys and create a little more competition," he said.

Adriaansen believes a stream of small startups, and potentially Hutterite colonies, will now enter the table potato and crop industry, and will be able to function in that marketplace.

But he does think some farmers will continue to sell through Peak of the Market.

The changes in the legislation announced Thursday will allow Peak of the Market, which was established in its current form in the early 1970s by the Manitoba Vegetable Producers Marketing Plan regulation, to transition from being a regulated agency to an independent operation under the provincial Corporations Act. 

That means it will be able to expand by acquiring assets or other entities, the province says.

With Peak of the Market joining the marketplace, Adriaansen thinks the changes will work to everybody's advantage.

"It's supply and demand. If more people produce, the price is going to go down in the stores. I fully expect to see that happen," he said. "I think it's going to be a bit of a roller-coaster for a few years until the market stabilizes again."

Peter Loewen, chair of Peak of the Market, calls the proposed changes "an important development for Manitoba's vegetable growers," and says they will provide a significant economic boost.