Scottish seed potato growers have welcomed a decision by Defra not to extend the current derogation on the import of seed potatoes from the European Union, which expired on 30 June.
The move comes as the EU has still failed to approve imports of UK-grown seed potatoes, instead rejecting a Government application for equivalence on seed potatoes. It is hoped that the latest moves will help to force the EU to reconsider the impasse.
Britain exported around 30,000 tonnes of seed potatoes, worth £13.5 million, to mainland Europe each year and the majority of these were high-health stocks grown in Scotland. In contrast, up to 10,000 tonnes of seed potatoes are imported annually from the EU.
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. Extending the authorisation for a further six months had the potential to devastate Scotland’s seed potato industry, impacting many of our members’ businesses and Scotland’s rural economy. We welcome that the UK Government’s allowance for EU seed potatoes to be sold to GB has now officially been ended.
“This means that potato growers throughout Britain will have to source their seed from within Britain, which is good news for Scotland’s seed potato sector. The GB market is quite different from the EU market, so the potato sector has quite a task on its hands to develop and supply this internal market.”