The Sprout: Canadian, U.S. officials to talk P.E.I spuds

Good day and welcome to the Sprout, where it’s reportedly National Milk Day and National Hot Toddy Day — time to get your drink on! (Please drink responsibly).

Here’s today’s agriculture news.

The Lead 

Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will meet virtually with their American counterparts on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing trade dispute between Canada and the United States involving potatoes from Prince Edward Island. As CBC News reports, the CFIA said in a statement officials plans to discuss “a path forward towards the resumption of trade of P.E.I. fresh potatoes.”

Exports of Prince Edward Island potatoes to the United States have been suspended since late November 2021 after the U.S. raised concerns about the potato wart fungus and threatened to ban shipments of the spuds if Ottawa did not act.

Meanwhile, thousands of Puerto Ricans have joined lobbying efforts aimed at resuming shipments of Prince Edward Island potatoes to the U.S. territory. As CBC News reports, Puerto Ricans are being encouraged via social media to send emails to the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Industry officials have said about 80 to 85 per cent of the potatoes sold in Puerto Rico traditionally come from Prince Edward Island.

And, in other potato-related news, the Montreal Gazette shares the story of how Prince Edward Island spuds are helping feed the homeless in Montreal.

Around Town 

Statistics Canada has released the Farm Input Index data for the third quarter of 2021. You can find it here.

Ontario’s agriculture ministry is set to hire four more extension staff across the province. As Real Agriculture reports, the province is currently looking for a soil fertility specialist, a cropping systems specialist, a livestock specialist and a lead for horticulture sustainability. You can find more information here.

In Canada

Real Agriculture looks at the potential implications of a looming mandatory vaccination requirement for truckers on rural areas and the agriculture industry. The impending cross-border vaccine mandate for truckers is set to take effect on Jan. 15 and industry has estimated the new rules could cause a 10 to 15 per cent reduction in available cross-border drivers.

Restaurants in Saskatchewan are struggling to stay open as staff become infected with COVID-19. As Global News reports, Restaurants Canada Western vice-president Mark von Schellwitz said the pandemic is exacerbating already tight labour supplies in the sector. “We know we have several restaurants on the brink hoping there’s not one more big outbreak or shutdown, because they’re that close to going under,” von Schellwitz told Global News.

Meanwhile, the union representing workers at the Cargill meatpacking plant in High River, Alta., says there are at least 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the plant. As Global News reports, the latest outbreaks has at least one doctor in Calgary urging workplaces to offer onsite vaccine clinics again in the face of Omicron’s rapid spread.


Meatpackers south of the border are dealing with labour shortages as companies grapple with COVID-19 cases among workers and plant inspectors. As Reuters reports, meat plants have been forced to slow production because of the infections.

Bloomberg is reporting Taiwan and Canada have held “exploratory discussions” about how to boost their bilateral trading relationship.


The Kicker 

An Ontario farmer has gone viral on social media after sharing moments of levity from her self-described “useless farm” on TikTok. As Global News reports, the farm’s residents have even attracted the attention of Canadian celebrity Michael Bublé.

Until tomorrow.

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