Brexit is having a significant impact on trade in seed potatoes between the European Union (EU) and Great Britain (GB).
Since 1 January 2021, the EU no longer allows the import of seed potatoes from GB due to the lack of an agreement over equivalence of the pertinent regulations. In response to this, the UK Government introduced the same restriction six month later, from 1 July 2021.
On 9 December, the European Parliament held a public hearing on “the impact of Brexit on European agricultural markets”. Europatat used this opportunity to highlight the impact of no agreement on the potato sector.
In a new release, Europatat points out that EU growers had relied on imports of seed potatoes from GB for many years. Likewise, many EU seed potato producers had annually exported significant quantities of seed potatoes to GB, the industry body says. The EU supplied GB annually with between 25,000 – 30,000 tonnes, and the same quantity was traded in the opposite direction.
Many EU growers prefer to use GB seed potatoes for various reasons, according to Europatat – the main one being high grade Scottish seed potatoes, that are classified at basic grade, are frequently used for multiplication as input seed into the EU seed supply chain because of lower levels of diseases and viruses. Scottish seed potatoes were also supplied to major EU seed producing areas for further multiplication to be supplied back to GB as seed for ware production.
Ireland’s potato industry has relied heavily on importing seed potatoes from GB. It is estimated that each year GB supplied 10-12,000 tonnes of seed potatoes to Ireland (75% to Ireland and 25% to Northern Ireland), and significantly most of the varieties supplied are not in seed multiplication schemes elsewhere in the EU. The lack of seed potatoes from GB is especially having an impact on growers in Northern Ireland.
Europatat is calling on EU and UK policy makers to break the deadlock and to reach an agreement on the resumption in the bilateral trade of seed potatoes.
“It is especially important that this is done soon, so as to avoid the possibility of regulatory divergence emerging between the EU and UK markets, further hindering the opportunities for mutually beneficial bilateral trade,” Europatat says.