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US: Newly-signed Wisconsin state laws require growers to use certified seed potatoes, speed response to disease

Some Wisconsin potato growers are applauding new state laws that could help protect against crop disease. Gov. Scott Walker signed two new measures involving the potato industry on Wednesday. One law requires growers to use certified seed potatoes if planting 5 or more acres. “It’s a requirement that just about every one of the other seed states in the country that grow seed potatoes already have,” said Alex Crockford, director of the Wisconsin Seed Certification Program through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program certifies that seed potatoes grown in the state are free of damaging levels of viruses or diseases. Walker also signed a law that shortens the amount of time growers have to respond to late blight of potatoes. Growers now have 24 hours to treat plants with late blight or 72 hours to destroy them after receiving notice from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Previously, farmers were given 10 days to address the issue. Read Wisconsin Public Radio report. Also listen to report