Gordon MP Richard Thomson has expressed both relief and frustration following a recent confirmation from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Starting 30 September, exports of seed potatoes from Scotland to Northern Ireland will recommence. This move has been hailed by many as it provides much-needed certainty to an industry that has faced significant disruption.
However, the MP’s relief was tempered by disbelief upon learning that the UK Government has not broached the topic of seed potato exports to the European Union since March.
Thomson, a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), had been in correspondence with DEFRA Minister Lord Benyon, urging progress on the matter. In response, the Minister stated, “We continue to raise this issue [lifting of the ban on seed potato exports to the EU] in our engagements with EU officials, most recently at the Partnership Council in March.”
Reacting to the news, Thomson commented, “Having a date for the resumption of seed potato exports to Northern Ireland is undoubtedly welcome. However, the revelation that discussions about lifting the EU export ban have been stagnant for almost half a year is deeply concerning.”
He further emphasized the global reputation of Scottish seed potatoes, known for their superior quality, and expressed concerns over the UK Government’s apparent lack of urgency in restoring these products to their primary export markets.
Thomson did not mince words when he said, “It’s simply unacceptable that producers in my constituency and throughout Scotland have faced such disruption. The inability to even export seed potatoes within the UK showcases the UK Conservative and Unionist government’s mishandling of Brexit – a decision neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland supported. It seems DEFRA has been neglecting its duties for months instead of actively pursuing negotiations to reclaim our markets.”
This news story underscores the ongoing complexities and challenges faced by industries in the post-Brexit landscape, with the seed potato industry being a prime example.