Farmers and truckers in P.E.I. are anxiously watching as the first loads of potatoes are set to head for the border for the first time in six months.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency combed the Island over the weekend, ensuring that the dreaded potato wart disease was nowhere to be found.
Millions of potatoes had been stockpiled since the U.S. threw up the ban after one sample of one crop from one field in the province turned up evidence of the wart. The wart is harmless to humans but it disfigures the spuds, making them unmarketable.
Their have been several false go-ahead signs from the U.S. since the ban was first put in place, and so no one will be surprised if the trucks wind up being turned back at the border today.
The U.S. Customs at Houlton, Me., will be the first to face the trucks full of potatoes.
“We all are nervous because you’re walking into something blind here,” says Wayne Clark of the P.E.I. Produce packing plant in Summerside. “We’ve had this mess all winter, so we’re not sure what we’re doing. The first trucks are going to be the sacrificial lambs.”
Farmers calculate they lost $30 million due to the ban.