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Scottish politicians press UK Government on seed potato exports ban

Scottish seed potato growers haven't been able to export to Europe or Northern Ireland since Brexit.

A pair of Scottish politicians have put renewed pressure on the UK Government over the post-Brexit ban on seed potato exports.

Seed potato producers in the UK have been unable to send their produce to Northern Ireland or Europe since the beginning of the year due to the Brexit trade deal not including third-country equivalence for seed potatoes.

This is the mechanism whereby the European Commission decides whether a non-EU country’s regulatory, supervisory and enforcement regime is equivalent to its own.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Gordon MP Richard Thomson met seed potato grower John Lind and NFU Scotland vice-president Andrew Connon to discuss the issue.

From left – Richard Thomson MP, seed potato farmer John Lind, NFU Scotland vice-president Andrew Connon and Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin.

Speaking following the meeting, Ms Martin said the impact of the restrictions on the seed potato sector could be devastating.

“This is yet another example of a key Scottish industry being disproportionately impacted by the UK’s exit from the European Union,” added Ms Martin.

“The UK Government is simply not doing enough to support seed potato farmers despite promises from the Tories that Brexit would offer prosperity and opportunity for business; farmers have been left in limbo and it is an outrage.”

Mr Thomson said Brexit had put Scottish seed potato growers’ most largest and most lucrative market – Europe – in “grave peril”.

He said: “Far from capturing new markets, the story of Brexit to date for farmers and food producers has been one of UK Government incompetence seeing export market share being threatened, while making it harder to compete domestically.

“Our seed potato growers need action from the UK Government now.”

A Defra spokesman said the Government continued to press the EU on the issue.

A spokesman from the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “We fully appreciate the importance of Scotland’s seed potato industry, not only for ware production across the UK but also for export, and its deserved reputation for high quality.

“We continue to press the EU to reconsider its position in line with its own regulations on the import of seed potatoes from Great Britain to the EU.”

Defra calls a halt to EU seed potato imports after negotiations fail

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