New requirements will allow Scottish seed potatoes back into the Northern Irish market from 30 September, it has been confirmed.
Following the Windsor Framework, Minister of State at Defra Lord Benyon said that previously banned seed potatoes will be able to move from GB to NI as they do in the rest of the UK.
Those moving seed potatoes will be inspected and approved by an authority annually which will allow traders to print and apply the plant label themselves, he said.
Prior to the UK leaving the European Union, Scottish seed potatoes were a crucial import for markets in Northern Ireland and the continent.
More than 75 percent of Britain's seed potato exports comes from Scotland, with the country exporting seed to 18 EU countries in 2020/21.
However, since January 2021, Scottish farmers have been unable to export seed potatoes to NI and the EU because of changes in trade regulations.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has welcomed the 30 September date confirmation, but he reacted 'with disbelief' that the UK government hasn’t raised the issue of exports to the EU since March.
The SNP MP said: “Having a date for the resumption of seed potato exports to Northern Ireland is undoubtedly welcome and provides certainty where previously there was none.
“However, the admission from Defra that the issue of lifting the ban on exports to the EU has not been discussed for nearly six months is absolutely astounding.
"I worry that it provides an indication of the importance – or lack of – that the UK government attaches to restoring Scottish seed potatoes – renowned the world over for their high quality – to their rightful export markets."
He said it was 'simply unacceptable' that producers across Scotland have had to endure the disruption of being able to get seed potatoes into another part of the UK.
"We find Defra has effectively been asleep at the wheel for months when it should have been driving the negotiations to get our markets back," Mr Thomson added.