Europe, UK, Ireland

GRIMME boosts planters with new features

GRIMME announces that several new features were added to its GL 420 and GL 430 four-row cup planters, as well as the GB 430 belt planter. These include single-row on/off switching; further protection against soil erosion with the new TerraProtect system; and an operator friendly planter-and-tractor coupling system.

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The new potato range from Linwood Crops: Sold for ‘Purpose and Taste’

Due to how potato varieties can perform so differently at different times of the season, Linwood Crops in the UK says it does not sell its potato varieties by variety as such (unless requested), but rather by the ‘best available for purpose’, as well as for consistency – and ultimately taste on the day, and at whatever stage of the season, the company says. This Unique Selling Point (USP) puts Linwood’s Chef’s Taste brand in a class above any others and is receiving a fantastic amount of interest, according to Linwood.

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Processing potato producers in France to receive financial aid for losses due to COVID-19

The French Ministry of Agriculture this week announced that potato producers who had to allocate processing potatoes to outlets other than for the process sector due to the pandemic will financially be compensated for losses incurred. Producers have until February 2 to apply online. The news site Terres et Territoires reports that ‘good things come to those who wait for it’. After six months of waiting, potato producers will finally be compensated “for the losses resulting from diverting unprocessed potatoes to other outlets, in the context of the health crisis associated with the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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The British entrepreneur who ‘turned potatoes into gold – twice’

William Chase is not your average farmer. The Herefordshire-born 60-year-old has gone from bankruptcy to making millions by turning potatoes into crisps and vodka, and is now hoping to make a fortune from apples, reports Hannah Uttley in an exclusive article published by The Telegraph. Chase is now building his Willy’s Wellness brand, which produces gut health products such as apple cider vinegar and kombucha.

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EU Exit Perspectives: British seed potato sector needs rapid resolution

In this week’s blog, AHDB’s head of export trade development for potatoes, Patrick Hughes, examines the issues around gaining third country listed status for seed potatoes and what the industry might do if a resolution is not reached. The news that ware potatoes have been awarded third country listed status and trade into the EU and Northern Ireland will continue is welcome. Unfortunately, the EU also confirmed they will not accept the case for a permanent change to the prohibition on seed potatoes.

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Unexpected purchases from Belgian processors shake up the potato market

The Belgian potato processing industry has set the tone for the Northwest European potato market at the start of the year after a number of Belgian factories unexpectedly purchased the product at a 5 euro base. As a result, it is said that the prices of the Belgian and French stock exchanges experienced an increase of more than 100% compared to the end of 2020.

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Jersey potato farmers fly in workers from the Philippines

Workers from the Philippines have been recruited to work on farms in Jersey to plug the gap left in the wake of Brexit, according to a report by the Daily Mail. Growers had reportedly feared that Jersey Royal potatoes would be left to rot in the fields after farm workers, many of whom were Polish, abandoned the island after the EU referendum. Farmers say the void has finally been filled by Filipino workers who were ‘keeping the farming industry going’ on the Channel Island.

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Dutch criminals said to use potato exports to Africa to launder money

According to the Fiscale Inlichtingen en OpsporingsDienst (FIOD), Dutch criminals are increasingly using potato exports to Africa to launder money, FIOD chief Bert Langerak has said. Investigations by the tax fraud detection body, whose annual report was published on Monday, has shown that criminals ‘exported’ at least €150m worth of produce, particularly potatoes, to Africa in the last five years.

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‘Stop/start’ harvest results in challenging year for Irish potato growers

Not getting the maincrop harvest completed until the days directly before Christmas has added considerably to the production costs incurred during 2020 by some potato growers including William Monagle from Co. Donegal. “Usually, we would be out of the fields at some stage during November; we normally start harvesting at the beginning of October,” Monagle told Richard Halleron of AgriLand. “An extended harvest adds to growers’ costs. Adding to the challenges faced by producers is the fact that average yields were down by around 20% last year.

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Tong pushes forward with second phase of new factory build

Tong Engineering is delighted to announce the go-ahead for construction of the second phase development at its new manufacturing facility in Spilsby. As part of a planned two-phase project, the company’s £3.6 million first phase building was completed in August 2020. And now the second phase build, of comparable investment, is set to commence on the seven-acre site this month, with plans to move into the new facility in the Autumn.

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AHDB applies for Emergency Authorisations after Vydate ban

Following an announcement that nematode treatment Vydate 10g has not been re-authorised and as of 1 January this year it is no longer approved for use in the UK, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has applied for emergency approval to provide limited use of the product for the 2021 growing season. Following consultation with stakeholders AHDB submitted requests for emergency approvals for those Vydate uses where growers lack alternative pest control options.

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British seed potato merchant banned from exporting potatoes to Northern Ireland or the EU

A potato seed merchant is counting the cost of a Brexit deal blow that will see him lose up to £125,000 a year. Iain Barbour has been banned from exporting potatoes to Northern Ireland or the EU from January 1. The manager of family-run JBA Seed Potatoes said he “still can’t believe it has been allowed to happen”. Staff had to work around the clock to make sure all orders to Northern Ireland and Europe were posted out ahead of New Year’s Day.

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PIP Innovations and FoodeQ collaborate to provide quality enhancement solution for potato processor

PIP Innovations, the manufacturer of D-Blade – a robotic driven produce cutter – announced recently that it partnered with FoodeQ, manufacturer of vibratory shakers, in a strategic move to accelerate its global expansion by offering a tested combination of shakers and robot technology. The development of PIP Innovations’ robotic cutting machine started five years ago with a request from potato processor Peka Kroef to develop a machine that cuts defects from potato slices while retaining their shape during processing.

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Northern Ireland: ‘Time to support local potato growers’

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) potato committee say they are ‘outraged’ to learn that several local packers and dealers have been lobbying for potatoes that have been produced outside of Northern Ireland (NI) to be imported from January 1. Chair Robert Sibbett, speaking on behalf of the committee, said: “We are shocked and horrified that a number of local processors, packers and dealers have given the impression that there is a supply and quality issue with our locally produced potatoes, going as far to state that imports are better. …This shows no respect for Northern Ireland potato growers.

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Mallorca potato exporters facing ‘considerable’ Brexit bureaucracy

Over the coming months, Mallorca’s Sa Pobla potato exporters will be faced with considerable new bureaucracy as a result of Brexit. Mallorca Daily Bulletin reports that Mateu Export is responsible for around two-thirds of the potato exports to the UK. Its manager, Joan Mateu, says that the total export process, already aggravated by Mallorca being an island, will slow down. This is because of phytosanitary certification and documentation for the customs system in the UK. S’Esplet, another exporter, also anticipates problems.

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Scottish potato firm cuts 27 tonnes of plastic from its packaging

Scottish potato business Scotty Brand has cut almost 27 tonnes of plastic from its packaging in a year. Scotty Brand said it introduced a raft of plastic-saving measures across its range to help protect the environment in September 2019 which included thinner, recyclable plastic on its 2kg potato bags, Baby Potato bags and Chippy Chip packs and removing trays inside its Baking Potato packs. In total, these steps have seen Scotty Brand save 26,890kg of plastic.

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Scottish minister pledges to fight for seed potato exporters

Scotland’s rural economy minister has pledged to do “everything possible” to reverse the “damaging impact” of the UK’s trade deal with the EU on seed potato farmers. Mr Ewing said he held talks with industry leaders this Monday and an urgent meeting with Mr Eustice. From Friday, seed potatoes will be banned from being exported to the EU, which could have an estimated £15m impact on the sector in which Scotland accounts for three-quarters of the UK’s 280 growers.

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‘To be or not to be’: British potato industry to discuss future direction of Potatoes at AHDB

On January 7 levy payers will gather online for an open discussion about the future direction of Potatoes at AHDB. This virtual ‘town hall’ event will give participants the chance to have a say on AHDB’s new five-year strategy and ask questions of Alison Levett (Potatoes Interim Chair) and Rob Clayton (Strategy Director). AHDB says its new strategy will put the organization in a place to deliver what the industry needs, including revamping the way AHDB works.

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Future Farming: You cannot hide from the satellite!

There are many movies where satellites offer scary surveillance capabilities. Of course, it is science fiction, but with the latest commercial satellites some level of space surveillance of crops and fields can be achieved. Besides the Big Brother effect, farmers can also benefit from the satellite imagery with increasing detail that become readily available at increasing cadence, writes Tamme van der Wal, scientist at Wageningen University in this article published by Future Farming.

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Brexit: Northern Ireland hoping for unfettered access to ware and seed imports from rest of the UK

Northern Ireland’s potato industry is reportedly hoping against hope that a derogation allowing the importation of both ware and seed from GB into the province, beyond December 31st, can be sorted out over the coming days. According to Wilson’s Country chairman Angus, the reality is that Northern Ireland’s potato sector is very dependent on having unfettered access to both ware and seed imports from the rest of the UK. This trade must be allowed to continue, as is, into the future.

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Supply chain sustainability the focus for McCain

Lockdown had led to a sudden shift from a crop shortfall following weather challenges last season to a surplus for potato giant McCain, as it lost 50 per cent of sales overnight. The last 10 years have thrown up multiple climate challenges for potato growers and McCain was looking to help create certainty for farmers and build supply chain resilience. Daniel Metheringham, McCain head of agriculture, said: “This time last year we were sat in the midst of a crop crisis because of weather volatility. When we hit Covid-19, all of a sudden we went from a crop shortfall to a crop surplus.”

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UK: Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms Results Week – Harvest 2020

AHDB Potatoes in the UK invites everyone for a week of online events exploring the work from its Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms from January 19 – 21. Online sessions hosted by AHDB will bring the growers, agronomists and researchers who have delivered field trials in 2020 together to discuss the work, deliver results and talk about what they learned. AHDB’s SPot Farms this year grew everything from certified seed, through salads to maincrop for the fresh and processing markets. With a range of geographical locations, soil types and challenges – there is something to learn for all growers.

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Documentary: Drones, robots, and super sperm – the future of farming

The future of farming: Driverless tractors, drones and robots. How is the agriculture industry changing as digital technology develops? Unmanned tractors controlled via GPS; drones that kill vermin in the fields from above; and highly efficient bull sperm used to produce genetically optimized calves. This is not science fiction. It’s the future of farming, today. “Smart farming” is the agricultural industry’s new buzzword, says the producers of this video by Deutsche Welle Documentary.

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How Scottish seed potato exports to the EU got left behind by Brexit

While all eyes have been on arrangements for fishing and livestock exports in the Brexit trade negotiations, few spared a thought for the humble seed potato. This seldom-discussed but valuable Scottish product has not made the list of food exports continuing to the EU having been denied third-country equivalence – the process whereby the European Commission decides whether a non-EU country’s regulatory, supervisory and enforcement regime is equivalent to its own.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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