NFUS rejects EU-Scotland seed potato proposal

Scottish potato growers have rejected proposals for a Scotland-specific seed trade agreement with the EU.

The proposals were part of a Scottish government consultation, which was looking for solutions to the difficulties facing the sector since Brexit.

A lack of agreement over plant protection rules between the UK, EU and Northern Ireland has halted UK seed potato exports since 1 January, while EU seed imports to the UK are allowed until June 2021.

The union was categorical in its response that going it alone was “not a valuable use of resources across governments or of benefit to the sector”.

It also pointed out that this option would contravene the UK Internal Market Act 2020.

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Instead, the NFUS response focused on resolving the current disparity and building a prosperous, sustainable market via the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

Martin Kennedy, NFU Scotland president said: “Our principal response is that securing an agreement under the TCA as soon as possible is essential.

“Seed potato growers across the UK are being severely impacted by the continued blocking of the UK’s application for equivalency.”

Mr Kennedy insisted there had to be trade parity for the sector.

He added that the UK’s open-door policy, allowing EU seed imports until June 2021, was undermining negotiations and called for it to be dropped.

UK governments must work together to explore all possible avenues to reopen the EU and NI markets and ensure there is equivalence across all imports and exports, he said.

While the NFUS wanted a thriving, equal trade across Europe, it also urged devolved governments to identify ways to develop the home market.

The union voiced its support for a consultation proposal to work across Great Britain to develop a thriving and self-contained seed potato market. 

This will help address the ongoing disadvantage being experienced by Scotland’s seed potato businesses post-Brexit, it suggested.

Scotland’s seed potato producers are seeking such opportunities and security so that they can grow with confidence knowing that there is an identified market within mainland Britain for their high-quality produce, the NFUS concluded.   

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