More than £12.5 million worth of high quality Scottish seed and ware potatoes currently being lifted for European markets would be worth a fraction of their value and destined for stock feed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The risks to Scotland’s lucrative potato export trade were spelled out to Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon by Forfar-based IPM Potato Group operations manager David Chalmers in a briefing at the company’s AJ Allan base in Brechin.
As hundreds of tonnes of Cara and Galactica seed potatoes were loaded into containers bound for Egypt and the Canaries, Mr Chalmers spoke of disruption and trading difficulties that would lie ahead with Europe and third countries if a Brexit deal is not agreed. He said 60% of seed produced by local farmers for the IPM business in Angus is exported to countries outside the EU, 10% to EU markets and the remainder to UK markets.
He said: “At peak time we are filling 120 containers a week and there are strict cut-offs for Egyptian markets in mid-December. The potatoes would have a home, but there’s a risk we wouldn’t get the paperwork done in time.”
Ms Gougeon said she had written to the UK Government seeking assurances that seed could continue to be exported to third countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and seeking “urgent clarity” on the potential impact on farmers’ ability to trade with third country markets.