Building Resiliency In P.E.I.’s Potato Sector

Government of Canada invests to help the industry recover and grow

Published online: Nov 29, 2023 Articles Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Victoria, Prince Edward Island · In the fall of 2021, the detection of potato wart disrupted sales of P.E.I. potatoes to the United States, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Islanders. The Government of Canada launched the Prince Edward Island Potato Stabilization and Innovation Initiative (PSII) to help the industry recover.

The PSII is a two-year $16 million initiative that is helping small and medium-sized enterprises modernize, diversify and adapt to meet changing market conditions. The initiative supports investments in a range of areas including digitalization and automation, improved storage, development of value-added products, and diversification.

Earlier this month, the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA, announced a combined contribution of over $12.5 million for 27 businesses across P.E.I.

The announcement further demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to work with the P.E.I. potato sector to ensure that producers, and the businesses that support them, are positioned for long-term sustainable growth.

For a full list of projects, see the backgrounder.

Quotes

“When potato wart shut down the export of P.E.I. potatoes to the U.S. and other international markets in 2021, the federal government began working with producers and industry partners to forge a new path forward. We will continue working together to ensure long-term sustainability and resilience for this pillar of the Island economy.”

 - The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“The Island’s potato industry is an iconic cornerstone of our economy, and a real great source of pride for communities right across the province. This federal support will help the sector continue to recover and provide island farmers with the tools to build resiliency for generations to come.”

- The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Member of Parliament for Cardigan

“The Island’s potato industry is made up of many rural and urban based businesses, creating critical economic momentum in our Province. Federal support for this industry’s recovery not only helps hard-working growers and processors, it also has a very real ripple effect, strengthening many other sectors like advanced manufacturing and tourism.”

- Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown

“Farmers work tirelessly to support our communities. They drive employment, produce economic spin-offs for other businesses, and contribute to our identities as Islanders. As the P.E.I. potato sector innovates and adapts to changing market demands, we will continue to provide support.”

- Heath MacDonald, Member of Parliament for Malpeque

“I have great confidence in the resilience and ability of our local farmers to overcome the challenges we are facing following the restriction of movement of P.E.I. potatoes. The Government of Canada understands that in order to remain competitive, we must invest in the sector, in state-of-the-art equipment, and in the people who build the industry every day.”

- Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont

Quick Facts

  • The potato sector is a key driver of the P.E.I. economy. The most recent economic impact analysis (from the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Land) shows the potato sector contributed over $527 million to provincial GDP in 2016.
  • More than 5,000 Islanders work in the potato industry across Prince Edward Island.
  • In February 2022, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada launched the Surplus Potato Management Response plan, providing up to $28 million in federal funding to divert as many potatoes as possible to processors, packers, and food banks; minimizing the number of surplus potatoes that needed to be destroyed.
  • In April 2022, Budget 2022 outlined the Government of Canada’s commitment to invest an additional $28 million dollars in Prince Edward Island’s potato industry through various programs and initiatives, including:

o   $16 million to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for the P.E.I. Potato Stabilization and Innovation Initiative to support stabilization of the sector;

o   $12 million to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to continue its efforts to prevent the spread of potato wart on P.E.I.

  • In October 2022, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency announced $4,213,558 in funding for nine projects through the Prince Edward Island Potato Stabilization and Innovation Initiative (PSII).
  • The funding announced is provided through ACOA’s Prince Edward Island Potato Stabilization and Innovation Initiative (PSII).