P.E.I. potato growers’ flood aid extended

Prince Edward Island’s potato farmers will get an extension on a federal/provincial aid program meant to help them recover from last year’s flood-wrecked crop.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced Thursday that the P.E.I. Potato Assistance Program has been extended to help farmers who had to destroy product that spoiled in storage and for cleaning and disinfecting storage bins and equipment.

“Farmers in P.E.I. continue to feel the impacts of last year’s flooding,” Ritz said, and “extending these changes to program eligibility will help Island farmers disinfect equipment and destroy rotten potatoes and other produce.”

Extreme wet weather in 2008 resulted in a large percentage of the P.E.I. potato crop being severely damaged. Aid was provided last fall to potato producers to help with the costs of disposing of unharvested potatoes.

“Despite these efforts, some spoilage occurred after harvest,” the government said in its release.

Under the extended program, eligible producers will get payment of one cent per pound to help with the cost of disposing spoiled product, plus an additional one cent per pound to help pay for the cleaning and disinfection of equipment and storage areas that have been contaminated.

The program is cost-shared on a 60/40 basis by federal and provincial governments under AgriRecovery.

“Our government is aware that the horticulture industry has been hit hard by flooding and the current economic downturn,” P.E.I. MP Gail Shea said in the federal release. “I’m pleased to see both levels of government working together with industry to help potato and vegetable producers rebuild their farms.”

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