Potato farmers show resiliency
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, email@example.com
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.