PEI

Potato tampering still worries P.E.I. farmers

P.E.I. potato growers are happy they're getting government help with the tampering cases plaguing the region, but there are still a lot of worries.

Government steps up with an extra $2M for food safety equipment

Potato farmer Randall Nieuwhof feels he has little choice but to install tampering detection equipment at his farm. (CBC)

P.E.I. potato growers are happy they're getting government help with the tampering cases plaguing the region, but there are still a lot of questions and worries about how the new program will run.

Farmer Randall Nieuwhof has been on edge since metal objects started showing up in P.E.I. potatoes last fall.

"The fear is always there for other people will want to do the same thing because somebody got away with it," said Neiuwhof.

The P.E.I. Potato Board would like to see tampering detection equipment at all farms and processors. (CBC)
"I can't quite understand what drives people to come up with things like this because it hurts the whole Island. It hurts the economy, it hurts farmers in general."

Nieuwhof said the announcement yesterday of $2 million from Ottawa and the province to help with equipment and training to detect tampering cases is welcome, but there are still worries.

"We'll be forced to put equipment in that we don't really want to, but in order to keep our business we may have to," he said.

There's not a lot of cash around after a poor potato year, said Nieuwhof, so the government aid is welcome.

The P.E.I. Potato Board says the programs won't be mandatory, and they don`t know yet how the money will be given out.

RCMP are still  investigating the tampering cases, and  encouraging growers to use preventative measures like posting no trespassing signs.

"We also talked about different programs like Crime Watch or looking at citizens on patrol, and working as a community to make sure that they are looking after each other and have eyes and ears out in the community watching for trespassers," said RCMP officer Joanne Crampton.

The potato board is looking at increasing the $100,000 reward for tips leading to a conviction, a decision may come at its meeting on Wednesday.

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