Europe, UK, Ireland, News November 2022

Post-Brexit: Scottish potato growers have ‘lost massively’, says parliamentarian

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has urged UK Government to involve Scottish agriculture and Scottish Government on trade decisions affecting the sector.

Ms Martin raised her concerns in the parliament yesterday regarding the lack of a statutory requirement in UK bills to seek the consent of Scottish ministers when legislating in devolved areas, the lack of opportunity for Scottish Parliament committee scrutiny and the inability to make recommendations in relation to such decisions.

Ms Martin also discussed her concerns for seed potato growers, for whom she said the withdrawal from the EU has had disastrous consequences as the ongoing post-Brexit ban on selling seed potatoes to the valuable EU market continues to disadvantage Scottish growers.  

In a debate on the impact of Brexit on devolution, she claimed that the significant prohibitions on Scottish seed potatoes going to the EU created a vacuum, where Scottish growers have lost massively, despite Scottish seeds conforming to the same grades and disease tolerances that the EU demands.

Gillian Martin said: “The 2020 trade and co-operation agreement with Europe failed to include equivalence on seed potatoes, and the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government had no say in the matter.

“The neglect of the seed potato sector represents just one part of a Brexit trade agreement in which Scotland had no say and of which we had no opportunity for scrutiny.

“At the end of 2020, Westminster’s failure to include an agreement with Europe on equivalence for the sector in the co-operation agreement was an omission that has cost Scottish growers dearly.

“A great number of Brexit-related bills have been passed at Westminster without the consent of at least one of the devolved legislatures, and the EU exit agreements have all been reached without consideration of devolved competences. We all need to be round the table with consent obtained before decisions and never after the fact.”

Commenting, Ms Martin said: “The seed potato and ware sector are a vital industry in which Scotland is a world-leader, and the varieties of seed potatoes exported from the north-east particularly, are premium products highly desired across Europe. They are now losing that trade to Irish growers, who of course, have unfettered access to the EU single market.

“Scottish farmers have been disproportionately impacted by EU exit and this is a prime example of the UK Government’s failure to secure, through negotiations with the EU, a needless outcome which could have protected this key Scottish industry from the impacts of EU exit. I urge the UK Government to seek a resolution to this ongoing disaster.”

Ms Martin’s speech in the debate can be watched here.

Source:
Tessa Franklin, Parliamentary and Communications Officer to Gillian Martin MSP
Tessa.franklin@parliament.scot
Photo: Gillian Martin, MSP

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