INCREASED TESTING of seed potato stocks and measures to reduce the financial burden on affected growers are two recommendations in DEFRA‘s report into the UK‘s first ring rot outbreak.

The report follows a review by DEFRA, the National Farmers Union and other organisations of the procedures and practices adopted during last year‘s outbreak.

Increased testing would have to be backed by an improved notification system to work effectively, the report suggested.

“A comprehensive statutory scheme should be introduced, which requires pre-planting notification of seed potatoes for planting.”

The report also recognised the need to ease the impact on individual growers.

“DEFRA has indicated its willingness to discuss possible risk-sharing mechanisms with industry organisations and options are being considered.”

Other recommendations in the report included a review of disposal options and a review of government contingency plans to ensure organisation‘s roles and responsibilities are clear.

“The report is very timely, not least because we are now dealing with a second outbreak of ring rot,” said Plant Health minister, Ben Bradshaw.

“I want to ensure that if changes are needed they are introduced as quickly as possible.”

Following assessment of the report‘s recommendations, Mr Bradshaw hopes to implement any changes in time for the 2005 planting season.