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National Potato Council wants stronger potato wart management

The National Potato Council says there’s a high probability potato wart could enter the U.S. from Canada without additional mitigation measures.

Mike Wenkel tells Brownfield about half of the production areas in the contiguous U.S., including the Midwest, have a climate suitable for the disease.

“Those states certainly could be a hotbed for wart to be found,” he says.

A ban is currently in place on all seed potatoes from Prince Edward Island, Canada after multiple detections of the fungus the last two years, but table stock potatoes are exempt.

Wenkel says studies by USDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirm the threat is likely larger than currently reported.

“We’re really working to ensure that USDA and CFIA come up with a plan that mitigates that risk for that disease to come into the U.S.,” he says.

He says the USDA study suggests retail grocery stores and consumers currently pose a risk of introducing the disease by using fresh potatoes for seed or through composting.

The National Potato Council says a detection in the U.S. would close access to all international fresh potato markets and cost the industry over $225 million directly in annual exports and billions more in indirect impact.

Wenkel spoke about the impacts during the recent Michigan Potato Industry Commission’s Winter Conference.

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