Scottish seed growers urge trade with EU to be reinstated

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

Growers are urging the government to reinstate Scotland's valuable seed potato trade with Europe following the opening of Solana Seeds' new Scottish base.

NFU Scotland, which was at the opening of the new base in Wester Meathie, near Forfar, called for the government to find a sustainable solution to the issue.

With more than 75% of GB’s seed potato exports coming from Scotland, the lack of an export market to Europe has caused chaos for many businesses.

Following Brexit, the UK and EU are negotiating to secure an agreement on equivalence, which would allow sales of Scotland's seed to the bloc to resume.

Industry bodies continue to lobby hard and are liaising with Scottish government, the UK government, Defra, the European potato trade and membership bodies, as well as the wider potato sector.

NFU Scotland's vice president Andrew Connon said it was 'apparent' that European growers sought Scottish seed potatoes, and vice versa.

“The EU trade situation is a bad one for the whole potato sector, with no winners," he added.

"As we move forward, we must think about what’s best in the long-term for the Scottish potato sector.

"Seed potato trade with the EU and GB must be reciprocal, this is an established principle that must remain in place for our members’ interests."

He said any one-way trade deals with individual members states would 'undermine this principle' and would be 'extremely unwelcome'.

However, almost 80,000 tonnes of Scottish seed potatoes are exported to non-EU countries, Mr Cannon noted, with the potential for increased trade with Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Thailand.

“We want to see Scotland’s reputation for seed potatoes continue to grow worldwide and it is truly refreshing to see Solana Seeds investing in a Scottish base at Wester Meathie.”