Scottish seed potato growers have used a visit by Defra Minister Victoria Prentis to the Turiff Show to express their anger at the fact English growers can import seed potatoes from Europe, while exports of Scottish seed to the EU are still prohibited by the post Brexit-deal signed by the British government.
NFU Scotland vice president Andrew Connon said, “Bona fide seed potatoes can come from Europe as long as growers buy direct from an European merchant for their own use. Defra have made the loophole and encouraged English specialist growers to get continental seed… Defra say Scottish growers should go after new markets, but any business person worth their salt knows it is easier to retain existing markets than to try and establish new ones.”
Before Brexit, the Scottish seed potato industry would typically send 20,000 tonnes of seed potatoes to the continent each year. The EU has said that to allow imports to resume, the UK must accept ‘dynamic realignment’ with its phytosanitary rules, something the UK government does not want to do as it could be seen a ceding control back to the EU.
Ms Prentice told farmers and growers at Turiff, “We continue to work on it but we don’t have all the solutions… You can’t get an agreement with people who don’t want to.” She also dismissed suggestions that English growers should be banned from buying European seed, instead telling the industry to solve them problems itself.