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Canadian province tries to whip up potato hysteria in Massachusetts

Help stop the Spudpocalypse

Prince Edward Island potato farmers, who produce one of the only two things their province is known for, are raising the specter of empty shelves and hungry children in Massachusetts because the meanies at the USDA are blocking the import of their spuds simply because of a fungus that can make potatoes look like the aftermath of an Alien chestburster birth, only whiter and mealier.

As the CBC explains, the USDA asked for a halt of PEI potatoes here last November after potato wart was found in two fields on the island. The fungus, which does not (yet) occur in the US, is harmless to people but makes potatoes look really gross (see some examples, if you dare).

But why are the farmers trying to make this a wedge issue in Massachusetts in particular? They say we have skin in this game because we're just so madly in love with PEI potatoes that we make up the island's second largest market - forget the Maine potatoes. Also, we have a bunch of influential lawmakers who can presumably tell the USDA to get stuffed and let those potatoes roll.

The spud growers have mashed together a form letter Bay Staters can use to send a scalding message to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilack to demand he stop the impending famine: "My name is and I live in Massachusetts where we count on potatoes from Prince Edward Island in Canada to feed our families," it starts.

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Comments

Maine Potatoes are in demand and they have the supply. So much so that they have started to ship potatoes by rail which has not been the case for at least 45 years now. We have plenty of Maine potatoes. As to PEIs, well they are OK as well but the demand on the shelves will drive the interest, not to mention price.

https://bangordailynews.com/2022/01/15/news/aroostook/maines-potato-crop-is-so-big-railroads-are-being-used-for-1st-time-in-40-years-to-transport-it-joam40zk0w/

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Adam is better at writing news articles than that Bangor Daily News. I think the reporter on the potato beat is half-baked.

then on to CSX (Canadian Pacific)

Fact Check: CSX Transportation is a different American railroad corporation.

USA! USA! USA!

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True, but there are also a lot of rail acquisitions and mergers happening all over. PanAm Railways appears to be on the way to being acquired by CSX which is promising to maintain passenger rail in their territory including northbound MBTA trains and the Amtrak Downeaster. Norfolk-Southern was one of the companies in the running to buy it, as well as one Canadian railway group. CP does have trackage inside the USA geography.

Both Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are speculating on acquiring other USA short lines here and there.

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My hope is we transition more agriculture *back* to rail. It uses less fuel, has a lower injury and death rate, and reduces congestion on roadways.

Sure, it's a significant investment to improve our railways, for cargo or for passengers. But it's worth doing for all kinds of reasons.

P.S. I don't know much about potato shelf life, harvest season, etc. But the idea of shipping potatoes from Maine to Washington -- right past Idaho -- seems absolutely bonkers to me.

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And yet, if they try to sell their wares one inch beyond an imaginary line, people with guns with accost them.

Government and borders are the fungus.

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We live in a world of imaginary lines, and those lines have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You?

The USDA has a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the PEI potato farmers and you curse the USDA bureaucrats. You have that luxury, the luxury of not knowing what I know, that the lack of PEI potatoes in our supermarkets, while tragic, probably saves lives. And the existence of the USDA, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at cocktail parties, you want that invisible line to be there, you need that invisible line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the food security the American government provides, and then questions the manner in which it is provided. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Either way, I don't give a damn what foreign potatoes you think you are entitled to.

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Did you order the code redskin?

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The point of that article is that the PEI potato board is asking people to tell the government to let those potatoes in. That might have an effect--yelling at people in the comments here won't.

Or are you so reflexively anti-government that you won't do anything that any government agency asks, even if what they're asking is for you to tell the US government not to stop PEI farmers from sending potatoes to the US?

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"The fungus is harmless to people"

It's possible that it is not harmless to potatoes, which are grown in Massachusetts, and that at least part of the USDA's concern is not introducing a new pest.

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It doesn't "harm farmers" to have lower yields and unsaleable product.

It doesn't "harm people" to have their crops infected.

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There are regular members of the commentariat that I take with a grain of salt. I learned years ago don't condemn the message because of the messenger. Yet I also realize that sometimes there are basic agendas that almost guarantee that the message will be a direct reflection of the messenger.

This is one an instance where I realize that sometimes I am best just mentally filtering out the comments based on certain names.

As for the whining about gov't I can not but help think about things such as lead paint, slaughter houses and cholera. It is because terrible, terrible government eventually took action to require no more lead paint or leaded gasoline, to establish safety conditions so that the products coming out of slaughter houses did not include human flesh and so that cholera did not create local epidemics (e.g., Chicago - the slaughter house capital of the nation decades ago).

The attempt to control the outbreak of emerald ash borer in Boston failed. It's here. While folks who are live upon the fumes of pessimism might argue why bother trying to keep out other invasive organisms sensible people realize that it we need to do the best we can to keep out invasive organisms.

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I mean the indentations on responses make it quite clear to whom you're referring.

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As a stowaway creature in a spaceship with Ripley and the rest of the crew, do you most identify with the unwelcome species as a protective parent seeking to witness your spawn reproduce in a new environment upon the ship's return?

Or are you a facehugger, with your only concern staying alive by feeding off of them?

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Anne of Green Gables, or the Louvre pyramid?

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Mussels.

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We can make it now. We have Shaw's, Roche Bros., Stop & Shop, Market Basket, Aldi, Trader Joe's, Wegman's, and I guess Whole Foods, if that's your thing, now.

These things were not present in rural County Galway and County Clare in 1845, thus relatives starved. People in Belgium and Northern France got messed with too. The Hypermarches there and the supermarkets here can handle the load today.

Keep you alien spore filled spuds away. Besides, the Canadian Trucking Class is exactly showing its best practices lately. Stay out. Thanks.

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Deal with it PEI, I don't want none of your mealy tubers, I don't want none of you whining. Anyways, I'm just a spud boy, looking for a real tomato.

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Someone who comprehends my potato! Let's shove our poles in some holes.

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Tired of the soup de jour?

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IMAGE(https://thumbs.gfycat.com/OrangeSnarlingGoshawk-max-1mb.gif)

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Actually, those other things - or rather, their contemporary counterparts - were there.
Potatoes were the only crop that failed. Other crops and livestock were doing okay.
-
The famine (a.k.a. depraved indifference genocide) was that the British largely kept pulling everything else for rents, taxes, and cash crops.

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Shaw's, Roche Bros., Stop & Shop, Market Basket, Aldi, Trader Joe's, Wegman's, and I guess Whole Foods,

Those things are still not present in rural County Galway and County Clare in 2022.

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Ore-Ida.

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I may be wrong on this, but the fungus-laden potatoes that the PEI government is trying to give us may be considered an "invasive species." That's why the USDA does not want the PEI potatoes imported - the fungus could be completely harmless to humans, but that may kill other plants (including our own potato crops).

Hat tip to Tim Mc. for that differentiation between the FDA and the USDA.

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Exactly, the USDA has always been concerned with this sort of thing.

I think their marketing people are trying to play off the pandemic. They know our heads are all in that space where we must protect people from threats. So they misdirect the threat of the fungus to people rather than potato plants so they can then declare it safe for people.

It is like dropping a salt water fish into fresh water while declaring that the water is safe for humans.

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If you've ever been to a foreign airport, you're told to consume fruits/vegetables before you get on the plane and you get fined pretty heavily if you bring them to the US.

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The boundary of authority between the two on matters of food is not totally clear to me, but the USDA has jurisdiction on matters of agriculture.

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Thanks...I've fixed my post.

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It could still be harmful to humans who have the personality of a potato.

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man is an island, regardless of the quality of his potatoes. when will white people learn?

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This weekend I was trying to buy some frozen hash brown patties (guilty indulgence). Stop&Shop was fresh out, and Wegmans had a bunch of printed signs over their entire frozen-potato-product section apologizing for being out of stock of everything.

Probably some other supply chain nonsense - but it's curious timing.

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Or was that what you were looking for?

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PEI potatoes are legendary only to people who like potatoes with rocks in them and stunted russets not made for clay soil.

There are a few smaller producers who grow stuff meant to grow in the types of conditions found in Canada, and those spuds are okay.

I have to say that I'm mostly underwhelmed by spuds grown in Maine or the Maritimes.

Overall, there isn't likely to be any kind of famine from this as PEI really doesn't produce a whole lot in the grand scheme of things:

New Brunswick: 1,515,900,000 lbs
PEI: 2,360,000,000 lbs
versus
Idaho: 12,894,500,000 lbs
Washington: 9,330,800,000
Wisconsin: 2,991,300,000
Oregon: 2,643,200,000

Sources:
Canada: https://www.potatopro.com/canada/potato-statistics
US: https://www.statista.com/statistics/382166/us-potato-production-by-state/

Why can't they just fire up some distilleries and make ethanol out of them? Spuds make for fine booze when treated right!

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