Potato farm­ers show re­siliency

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

over­heard on the is­land “An Is­lan­der is some­one who knows where the best beaches are, but doesn’t tell tourists.” — From the col­lec­tion of Is­land au­thor David Weale, dweale@pei.sym­pa­tico.ca

The P.E.I. potato brand is strong – so strong that dis­turb­ing cases of food tam­per­ing have done lit­tle to de­ter con­sumers and pro­ces­sors from chang­ing their spend­ing or eat­ing habits. That is a tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity and value of Is­land-grown pota­toes. The in­dus­try would like noth­ing bet­ter than for po­lice to solve the cases of food tam­per­ing and see charges laid.

Last week the P.E.I. Potato Board in­creased its re­ward to $500,000 for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest and con­vic­tion of those who have in­serted nee­dles into ta­ble­stock pota­toes. That is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money which hope­fully will tempt some­one to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion. Some­body knows some­thing and it’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore the guilty are caught and jailed.

Early in­di­ca­tors are that grow­ers have not been in­tim­i­dated, con­sumers scared off or pro­ces­sors co­erced into look­ing else­where for prod­uct. It ap­pears the 2015 Is­land potato crop will ap­proach 90,000 acres – close to last year’s to­tal. This comes de­spite food tam­per­ing in­ci­dents, ex­pen­sive me­tal-de­tect­ing equip­ment be­ing in­stalled by many potato farm­ers, con­tin­ued crit­i­cism from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, the wor­ri­some is­sue of wire­worm in­fes­ta­tion, the re­tire­ment of gen­er­a­tions-old farm fam­i­lies from the in­dus­try, a late spring and a plant­ing sea­son pushed back two to three weeks - along with ques­tions on crop in­sur­ance cov­er­age this fall.

De­spite the many prob­lems fac­ing re­silient P.E.I. grow­ers, there is strong op­ti­mism that things will get bet­ter. Each spring brings the hope that farm­ers will en­joy a bumper crop and strong prices.

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