Seed potato growers look to home

With little chance of Scottish seed potatoes regaining the important export market to the EU they once held, the sector needs to convince Defra Secretary, George Eustice that UK seed growers can provide sufficient seed of the right type to displace imported seed - and to introduce a reciprocal ban.

Speaking after the Secretary of State had told an on-line meeting with seed growers that the EU had turned down the most recent attempt to re-secure the market which was effectively closed when the Brexit transition period ended, Rob Doig, director of Caledonia Potatoes said that it was unlikely the EU would ever allow Scottish and UK seed back in.

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“So it’s important that we bite the bullet on a reciprocal ban now rather than holding fire, as seed growers are currently asking themselves if the crops which they will be planting in a few weeks –and which will be sold for growing next year’s ware crops - should be of varieties aimed at the European market or the UK market.”

And while a six-month derogation had been put in place allowing UK ware growers to continue to access seed from Europe, Doig said that with seed exports and imports being close to in balance, there would be little trouble growing enough seed within the UK to cover the requirements of the domestic ware market.

“There might need to be some small shift in the varieties actually grown, but if we knew the situation, we could certainly provide equivalent varieties to meet the vast majority of growers and to ensure there will be no future shortfall in ware production.”