15 March 2002

Potato shield stays in place

FOOD and farming minister Lord Whitty has reassured growers that efforts to keep damaging potato diseases out of the UK will be rigorously maintained.

NFU vice-president Michael Paske stressed the importance of maintaining controls in a meeting on Tuesday (Mar 13), especially in the light of lifting restrictions on "mad beet" disease, rhizomania, at the end of the month.

"Its one of the big issues we raised with the minister and we certainly hope that the end of the protected zone status will have no impact on importing potato diseases," said Mr Paske.

"But were now confident that controls will continue, and we made clear how important that is."

Potato ring rot, is highly contagious and is widespread on the continent, but no cases have yet been found in the UK. &#42