PEI

Governments earmark up to $15.6M for help following poor potato harvest

Ottawa and the government of P.E.I. are providing some additional help for Island farmers following the poor potato harvest of 2018.

'Farming can be a very difficult career at the best of times'

Greg Donald, left, and Jason Hayden with the P.E.I. Potato Board join Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay and P.E.I. Premier Dennis King at Friday's announcement of a harvest relief fund. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Ottawa and the government of P.E.I. are providing some additional help for Island farmers following the poor potato harvest of 2018, they announced at a farm in Pownal, P.E.I., Friday morning.

About 2,800 hectares of potatoes were left in the ground last fall when rain and cold weather made it impossible to harvest them.

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay and Premier Dennis King announced up to $15.6 million through the AgriRecovery Framework, a federal-provincial program set up to help farmers recover from natural disasters. The provincial portion of the agreement is $6.2 million.

"Farming can be a very difficult career at the best of times, so I'm so pleased to be able to provide this much-needed support," said MacAulay in a written release. 

Financial assistance will be provided to producers for the extraordinary costs relating to harvest recovery, additional field work, and storage and recovery, including costs associated with cleaning and disinfecting storage facilities.

Premier Dennis King said it was a natural decision for his government to come aboard with its portion of the funds. 

"It was an easy decision for us as a new provincial government to say we needed to do this. Of course it's a big dollar figure. Six point two million dollars, a one time payment, is a big expenditure," he said at Friday morning announcement 

"But it's one that is needed and it's one that will be redistributed throughout the economy and the agriculture community will be benefited. And so will the Island economy as a whole."

And it comes as great relief to growers too, many of whom were at the announcement to hear the news. 

"It's a big relief. It's been a lot of months of wondering if this AgriRecovery assessment was going be successful or not. And today we found that it was," said Jason Hayden, who chairs the Potato Board and is also a grower

He added the whole industry was affected — some warehouses have sat empty since last fall, and many staff didn't get many hours of work due to the poor harvest.

More details about the program and how to apply will be posted on the Department of Agriculture website in the coming days.

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