Gordon MP Richard Thomson has been advised by DEFRA that new requirements which will allow quality Scottish seed potatoes back into their Northern Irish markets are expected to be in place for autumn this year.
The SNP MP welcomed the progress but said Scottish exporters will understandably still be looking to resume exporting to their former EU and rest of Ireland markets, on which progress has been limited.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“This is another step forward and I’m delighted that at long last, after so much lobbying and cajoling, we now at least have a definitive answer to when Scottish seed potatoes can be exported to Northern Ireland.
“But Scottish exporters will understandably still be looking to resume exports to their former EU and Irish markets and the UK Government really needs to step up its efforts before these markets are lost forever.
“We know, for example, that the Irish Government have committed €3million to boost its domestic potato industry, recognising a Brexit opportunity when it sees it and which is no more than you would expect from a government which takes farming seriously and sees an opportunity to benefit its farmers.
“While it is undoubtedly good news for exporters that they will once again be able to get their product into Northern Ireland, no-one should be in any doubt that this is just a first step along the road to where Scotland needs to be, and that is to have our export markets in the EU fully restored.
“The disruption of not even being able to get seed potatoes into another part of the UK, such was the incompetence of this UK Conservative and Unionist government in its delivery of Brexit, is something that should not be forgotten nor that neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland voted for this chaos in the first place.”
Note: In a letter to Richard Thomson MP, Minister of State at DEFRA Lord Benyon states:
Following the agreement of the Windsor Framework, plants, seeds, and trees staying in the UK, including previously banned seed potatoes and other shrubs and plants, will be able to move from GB to NI as they do in the rest of the UK, increasing access and choice for businesses.
Plants, including seed potatoes, will move without routine checks or burdensome certification, with the only requirement being an industry issued plant label in line with other intra-UK movements. Those moving seed potatoes will be inspected and approved by a competent authority annually which will allow traders to print and apply the plant label themselves.
Regarding the timeline for introduction of these requirements for seed potatoes, we expect the new requirements will come into force later this year in autumn 2023.
We will support businesses in adapting to these new arrangements and will provide further details in the coming weeks to ensure that requirements are implemented in the best way possible for the supply chain.