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

The ban on importation of US potatoes into Mexico as explained in article published in the Spanish ag press

The decision by a judge in Mexico a few days ago to prohibit the importation of potatoes from the US received intense attention in ag circles in both countries, and beyond. A news story about this issue was published on the Spanish ag news website ARGENPAPA (based in Argentina). The article is entitled “México: ¿Por qué Sagarpa prohibió la importación de papa?” – it was published online by ARGENPAPA yesterday, August 5. I publish a machine-translated (Google) version of this article below for the convenience of non-Spanish speaking readers of Potato News Today who might have an interest to read it. (Footnote: Sagarpa is the name for the Mexican department of agriculture).  Continue reading

Breaking News: Mexican court bans US potato imports over ‘food sovereignty’ and spread of diseases

Buttery Potatoes, Meals, Father's Day, Food Gifts, Side Dishes, Potatoes,According to an Associated Press (AP) news report, published late last night on CBC Local in Sacramento, a Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling yesterday that bans the import of US potatoes on the grounds that the imports ‘violate Mexicans’ right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment’. A group of Mexican potato growers had reportedly sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming that any imports will result in the spread of agricultural diseases within Mexico’s borders. The court further said Mexican agricultural authorities had failed to use sufficient methods such as radiation treatment of imports to prevent disease spread. But because federal injunctions are intended only to protect constitutional rights, the ruling had to break some new ground. The court therefore ruled that the ban must be implemented to maintain Mexicans’ collective rights to “preserve food sovereignty and the health of Mexican crop fields.” According to the AP report, the US agriculture department had no immediate comment on the ruling.

US: National Potato Council warns of ‘serious threat to the industry’ if potatoes are imported from the UK

Image result for potato fieldLast week, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US provided comments to USDA APHIS on the recent pest risk assessment for the importation of potatoes from the United Kingdom to the US. NPC emphasized concern over six pests that would threaten the industry. The introduction of these pests into the US would “substantially harm US potato production and could cost the industry tens of millions in lost export revenue”, the NPC warns. The pests of concern are: Dickeya solani, Meloidogyne minor, Synchytrium endobioticum, Ralstonia solanaceum, Globodera pallida and Globodera rostochiensis. NPC urged APHIS to approach the discussion with the U.K. with extreme caution. This public release of the pest risk assessment is a step in the process for considering whether these products can safely be imported into the US.  The NPC says at this point, no determination has been made whether the pest and disease threats can be reasonably mitigated. (Source: NPC)

US potato industry joins voices supporting export assistance programs

Potato grower Eric Halverson  has spoken in front of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee was in Washington, D.C. regarding the importance of the USDA export programs. Mr. Halverson is a fourth-generation farmer and CEO of Black Gold Farms in Grand Forks, North Dakota. U.S. potato growers see fierce foreign competition in key export markets and continued access is vital for maintaining the economic health of the industry. He explained that the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) allows the U.S. to be competitive overseas through marketing and promotional activities that build commercial export markets. Halverson spoke about MAP’s important role in this public-private partnership, noting its 28-to-1 return-on-investment. More

Colombia: Potato sector asks government to accept their anti-dumping suit

This week the Colombian government will determine whether they will accept the anti-dumping suit filed by the potato sector in the face of massive imports of potatoes that have put at risk the activity of more than 100 thousand national producers. “We have already filed the anti-dumping lawsuit, we hope to find out this week if the government will take precautionary measures or if they will reject the measures we are espousing.” According to the president of Fedepapa, German Palacio, it is urgent that the control agencies and the Government intervene, as it is illogical to make imports when the dollar costs more than 3 thousand pesos. More

Australia: Potato farmers send bill for $500,000 to government for abandoned Galati legal case

Tony Galati (left) outside the Supreme Court in Perth.Frustrated potato growers have sent the West Australian State Government a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars after the Government dropped an industry funded legal fight against Perth businessman Tony Galati. WA Premier Mark McGowan made the decision to drop the case, which was launched by the now-defunct Potato Marketing Corporation (PMC) against Mr Galati for allegedly planting more than his designated quota of potatoes under regulation in 2015, flooding the market. But just a week after the decision was made to abandon the grower-funded civil suit, Mr Galati pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge and admitted to breaching an injunction in place to limit his potato plantings. After the civil case was abandoned, Potato Growers Association chief executive Simon Moltoni said farmers wanted their money back. More

European Commission won’t ban Belgian frites

The European Commission is not going to ban Belgian frites, as a spokesman told journalists in response to criticism of an initiative aimed at regulating the way they are made. The commission is proposing that the potatoes should be blanched first to prevent the formation of acrylamide, an allegedly carcinogenic compound that can form in the frying process. It is consulting producers on a code of practice to reduce acrylamide intake. On the other hand, Belgium says European commission’s proposal to change cooking process for safety reasons will spoil chips’ taste. A similar risk to that posed by the frite is apparently also found in roast potatoes, biscuits, porridge, coffee and bread. The European Food Safety Authority has said children are most at risk. More

UK: Potato industry to meet on eve of CIPC regulation change

Postharvest Showcase, one of the leading potato storage events in Great Britain, is to take place on 27 July, days before regulations on the use of Chlorpropham (CIPC) are to change. CIPC is the principal tool in the potato storage manager’s box when tackling sprout suppression in tubers. An interactive display at the event, provided by independent body the CIPC Stewardship Group, will demonstrate methods for effective use the treatment at the new lower levels using ‘active recirculation’ of air in the store, as part of their ‘No Fan, No Fog’ campaign. Innovations and future technology will also be on the agenda at the event. Dr James Covington of the University of Warwick will discuss his team’s research into electronic, non-destructive sensors to detect soft rot in potatoes as part of a keynote speaker programme.  Continue reading

Zambian farmer alleges market is flooded by cheap potato imports from South Africa

A commercial farmer has called on the Zambian government to protect potato growers from cheap imports from South Africa. Stuart Cooke, who is managing director of Chartonel Farms in Lusaka, said a lot of cheap potatoes are allowed onto the Zambian market from South Africa, which is disadvantaging local farmers. “Cheap imports are really affecting us. Our new crop is just coming in, but they have flooded the market with cheap imports from South Africa. Zambia is being used as a dumping ground for South African produce. Only when the price in South Africa is very low do they sell here and that affects our market in a big way,” Mr Cooke said. He said the local potato growers are able to satisfy the market. “We are capable of supplying the market throughout the year. We are on the market selling 11 months of the year, and I’m confident we can supply the market,” he said. More

UK: Brexit affects potato industry

During the Europatat Congress in Antwerp, Belgium, Cedric Porter of the World Potato Markets gave a presentation titled Brexit and the Potato Industry. Last June, 52 per cent of the British people voted to leave the European Union, and this month, negotiations between the UK and the EU will start. Brexit itself is planned for March 29, 2019. However, last week’s general election in the UK has made the situation more uncertain. Prime Minister Theresa May was hoping to gain a majority by calling early elections, but she failed to do so. More

India: ‘28% GST on farm implements will ruin potato industry’

Punjab potato growers and dealers apprehend a further setback if the state government goes ahead with its proposal of 28% GST on farm implements used in potato growing industry and have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the issue before final implementation of the new tax regime in July. “We are already a sick industry and the proposed 28% GST on farm implements will play havoc with farmers and dealers,” said president of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) Gurraj Singh Nijjar while talking to TOI on Saturday. Though potato dealers are not sure about the exact GST, which will imposed, they apprehend that it could be between 20%-28%. Nijjar said presently there was no VAT or duty on farm machinery, but they apprehend that the government could impose 28% GST on farm implements used for potato cultivation. More

Taiwan: Gov’t to control future GMO potato imports

Agriculture authorities say they’re prepared to implement controls to prevent the possible import of U.S. genetically modified (GMO) potatoes from affecting domestic growers. The U.S. recently applied with the Health and Welfare Ministry to import GMO potatoes, with the approval process expected to be completed next year at the earliest. However, concerns are being raised about the potential health impacts of GMO food products and the adverse effects of these imports on domestic potato farmers. The Council of Agriculture said Monday it would monitor future imports and call for proper labeling of foreign GMO potatoes. If approved for import, the GMO potatoes would be used in potato chips, French fries and other processed food products. The government currently allows five types of GMO products to be imported, namely soybeans, corn, cotton, rapeseed and sugar beets. More

Australia: Potato grower Tony Galati fined $40,000 in Perth court for contempt

Tony Galati, who has been fined $40,000 for contempt of court.Potato rebel Tony Galati and his company has been fined $40,000 for his admitted contempt of court in growing more potatoes than agreed to with the now extinct Potato Marketing Corporation in Western Australia. Earlier this month, the protracted potato war between the Spud Shed owner and the government came to an end, after he pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge, that was intended to prevent Mr Galati growing more than 1049 tonnes of potatoes in the prescribed period – he grew and delivered 150 tonnes more than that. The admission cost Mr Galati $200,000 towards the costs of the government lawyers. And today, Supreme Court judge Paul Tottle handed down an additional $40,000 in punitive fines.Mr Galati made around $148,000 from the sale of the extra 150 tonnes of potatoes. More

Australia: Potato growers after state

Potato growers have now turned their attention to the state government to seek reimbursement for legal costs after the WA Premier stepped-in to stop a civil lawsuit against the spud king, Tony Galati. The call came after spud king Tony Galati admitted guilt in the Supreme Court to a contempt of court charge which related to an injunction ordering him to stop growing more potatoes than he was allowed to. In court last week, Mr Galati was ordered to pay $200,000 in legal costs, and is also expected to receive a fine which is due to be handed down within the next seven days. The contempt charge related to a legal fight Mr Galati lost in November 2015 to stop an injunction when the Supreme Court sided with the Potato Marketing Corporation. More