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P.E.I. announces CAD 4.7M to tackle potato surplus related to COVID-19 market conditions

The government of P.E.I. announced more support to help potato farmers amid COVID-19 in a Thursday afternoon briefing.

Ahead of the growing season, the government of P.E.I. has announced it will provide CAD 4.7 million to address the Island's potato surplus as a result of COVID-19 market conditions.

In a Thursday afternoon news briefing, Minister of Agriculture and Land Bloyce Thompson said the province will be helping producers and processors with the cost of shipping and storing potatoes.

Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and Land of P.E.I.:
 

“This will help to ensure no product is lost so that farmers are in a good position for the 2020 growing season.”

“It will help resolve the substantial market issues to ensure these potatoes will now be a source of safe, quality food for our food security.”

Thompson acknowledged the approximately 4,600 employees in the agricultural industry on P.E.I. He also noted the Island relies on the sector for about 7.6 percent of its GDP.

Additional supports

Over the next two years, Thomspon said the department will provide up to CAD 8.8 million in support to farmers through its business risk management program.

The province's AgriStability program will also increase coverage for producers from 70 to 85 percent and will remove the reference margin limit in an effort to help the local livestock industry.

In addition, Thompson said the province is offering interim payments of up to 75 percent to get funding into the hands of producers as soon as possible. Combined, he said the program and interim payments will provide CAD 5.6 million in additional support over the next two years.

He noted the deadline to register has been extended from April 30 to July 3.

The province also announced its AgriInsurance program will now offer a 10 percent discount on the producer's share of insurance premiums, with the aim of saving farmers an estimated CAD 3.2 million over the next two years.

Bloyce Thompson:
 

“The funding that we are putting out today, it'll be immediate.”

“We're waiting for the federal government to step in, but if they don't we're prepared to do it on our own.”

Thompson said the department was on a call earlier Thursday with its federal counterparts to discuss additional supports for business risk management.

However, he said the province does anticipate the federal government will take action.

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