The president of Cavendish Farms is warning that the future of potato farming on Prince Edward Island could be at risk due to provincial restrictions on land ownership.
During a meeting of the province’s standing committee on communities, land and environment, Robert Irving brought attention to the declining numbers of potato farms on the Island. Since 1997, the number of potato farms has declined from 460 to 186. Irving said the province should double the land limit allowed under the Lands Protection Act in order to allow potato farmers to increase their yields.
Irving said crop rotation, which limits potato harvests to once every three years on individual plots of land, is a sound agricultural practice. But, he said smaller producers need to be allowed larger acreages. The Island currently limits individual landholdings to 1,000 acres for individual farms and 3,000 for corporate entities.
Irving said a limit of 2,100 acres would allow family farms to plant potatoes on 700 acres and rotate this crop over a three-year period.
Cavendish Farms is the largest purchaser of potatoes in Prince Edward Island. The company announced in July it was getting out of the market for table potatoes in order to focus its P.E.I. operations exclusively on frozen foods.