On Thursday, the USDA said exports could resume under certain conditions.
"USDA requirements and Canadian Food Inspection Agency mitigations require that imported table stock potatoes from PEI and the seed potatoes used to produce them must originate from fields not known to be infested with potato wart or associated with known infestations. The table stock potatoes must be washed in PEI to remove soil, treated with a sprout inhibitor, and graded to meet the U.S. No 1 standard. Shipments must be officially inspected by the NPPO of Canada and certified as meeting USDA requirements."
In November, the Federal Government voluntarily suspended exports of all potatoes for consumption and planting from PEI after a detection of potato wart disease.
John Barlow, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Agri-Food and Food Security says it was a move that never should have happened.
" We've had very strong surveillance protocols in PEI for potato wart. Two potatoes were found out of, you know, hundreds of millions of pounds of potatoes, and this was a knee jerk reaction by CFIA and the Minister of Agriculture."
Barlow was in PEI meeting with producers and says the toll on farming families has been devastating.
"As a result of our inability to export produce to the United States, more than 300 million pounds of potatoes have been destroyed or left to rot, and multi-year damage has been done to the potato seed industry. It is heartbreaking for PEI farmers to destroy what was a bumper crop."
Stats show the move cost PEI's potato industry more than $25 million dollars.
Barlow says the Liberal inaction on the issue has been frustrating for producers who were trying to make a decision on planting this years crop.
He adds their livelihoods are being destroyed, and it’s clear the frustration, anger, and anxiety they are expressing is boiling over.
"I can’t blame them. Minister Bibeau has yet to visit PEI since the ban came into effect last November. When Premier King joined a delegation to the United States to advocate for the industry, the Minister could not be bothered to join him on that occasion. "
Barlow says the Government of Canada knows PEI potatoes are safe for export.
"For months table potatoes have continued to be sold to consumers here in Canada, and with American approval, to Puerto Rico. Food banks across Canada are now fully stocked with first-rate potatoes, thanks to PEI farmers who have donated hundreds of pounds in the wake of the export ban. This generosity is a perfect example of the spirit of PEI farmers. They are determined to make the best of a bad situation, but it also underlines how unscientific this ban is."