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‘A seedy affair’: UK’s Defra ends seed potato deadlock

Scottish potato growers have welcomed the decision of the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to implement a reciprocal ban on EU imports of seed potatoes. EU seed potatoes are now banned from entering Great Britain, after having been granted a six-month passage by the UK Government, when talks between both sides failed to agree on equivalence post-Brexit, writes Claire Taylor in this news story published by The Scottish Farmer.

Claire writes that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Europe – announced at the end of 2020 – failed to agree equivalence, resulting in significant prohibitions on Scottish seed exports to the EU and, by extension, Northern Ireland. Scotland’s national Farming Union (NFUS) stated that the consequence for growers was ‘immediate and grave’. As a member of the EU, Britain exported around 30,000 tonnes of seed potatoes, worth £13.5m, to mainland Europe each year and the majority of these were high-health stocks grown in Scotland.

Scottish growers warned that if Defra had agreed to grant a further six-month extension to allow imports to continue, the move could have had the potential to “devastate” Scotland’s seed potato industry.

Specialist Scottish seed grower Andrew Skea – who formerly exported a considerable amount of seed to Europe – welcomed Defra’s decision but recognised it would create difficulties for English growers trying to access preferred varieties. However, he pointed out that alternative varieties of seed were available from Scotland.

Chair of NFU Scotland’s Potatoes Working Group, Mike Wilson, said: “We are delighted that the principle of seed potato trade between the EU and GB having to go ‘both ways or no-ways’ has been upheld by Defra.

Source: The Scottish Farmer. Read the full story here
Photo: Chair of NFU Scotland’s Potatoes Working Group, Mike Wilson. Courtesy The Scottish Farmer

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