Scottish growers urged to join new seed potato co-operative

The Seed Potato Organisation (SPO), a co-operative for seed potato growers, is looking for new members to join
The Seed Potato Organisation (SPO), a co-operative for seed potato growers, is looking for new members to join

A new organisation launched to support the Scottish seed potato sector as it remains locked out of the EU market is looking for growers to join.

The Seed Potato Organisation (SPO), which was launched as a co-operative last year, is "run by seed growers for the benefit of seed growers."

Before the UK left the EU, Scotland exported around 20,000 tonnes of seed potatoes, worth almost £11 million, to Europe each year.

More than 75 percent of Britain's seed potato exports comes from Scotland.

However, the Trade and Co-operation Agreement with Europe, announced at the end of 2020 as part of Brexit, failed to agree equivalence on seed potatoes.

The UK and the EU remain at loggerheads on this matter, and it is Scottish growers who are paying the price for an issue that is becoming increasingly political.

Rodney Harrison, an Angus-based seed grower, said he joined the SPO as the seed potato sector was now at a crossroads.

"If we, as growers, sit back and do nothing, we could well find the industry suffers, or worse disappears," he said.

"Joining the SPO gives me a voice to help ensure this great industry stays relevant."

Jonnie Martin, a grower from the Black Isle and SPO Board member, added that while the sector had strengths, in order to protect its reputation it needed a "united and dynamic organisation".

"[SPO] can work in partnership with both SASA and Defra to ensure an efficient sector to produce a high quality seed product," he explained.

"One that can direct scientific research and one that can promote and further develop the health status of our seed industry at home and abroad."

The initial cost to join SPO is £1,000. This is used to establish the organisation, which can be redeemed in future.

The co-op has an annual membership fee of £29 per hectare, based on the area of seed grown.

To find out more and join SPO, growers can visit its website, email or call Chairman Mike Wilson on 07808 066673.