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New national standards could ease seed potato sales for Wisconsin farmers

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MADISON, Wis (WSAU) - A joint state and federal program will make it easier for Wisconsin farmers to ship and sell seed potatoes nationally and abroad.

It's called the State-National Harmonization Plan and Wisconsin is one of 12 states taking part. The program will work to make a nationwide set of standards for seed potatoes to ensure they are pest and disease free. State Department of Agriculture Spokeswoman Donna Gilson says Wisconsin has been part of similar programs for many years. "Since 1914. Wisconsin joined with Idaho, Maine and Vermont to create the first program to certify seed potatoes."

"Seed potato exports are growing in importance for Wisconsin producers, and this new plan will help boost those exports," said Brian Kuhn, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "We've already been audited, and the results show that our state certification program exceeds the standards under the harmonization plan, and we will maintain our high standards."

The standards will help open up Wisconsin farms to other markets in the United States, Canada and further abroad. Gilson says that the enhanced and standardized testing rules will assure top quality seeds. "International buyers or people from other states can be assured that those are going to be good quality seed potatoes."

The plan is part of a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the National Potato Council, the National Potato Board, the National Plant Board, and state seed certification agencies. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is a member of the National Plant Board.

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