THE INDUSTRY is being asked to share its feedback on potential changes to the scope of the Safe Haven Standards, the seed potato assurance scheme run by Red Tractor.

These promote best practice in key areas of seed production to protect the industry against incursions of bacterial ring rot or Dickeya, but the review will consider whether the current standards are fit for purpose, as well as identifying potential new areas to bring into the scheme.

Seed growers can share via an AHJDB-hosted online questionnaire which went live on December 7 and runs until February 7.

Vicky Smith, technical manager for Red Tractor, commented: “With Brexit approaching and with it potential changes to our trading relationships, this seemed the ideal time to consider the current remit of the Safe Haven scheme and whether we can strengthen it further, both in terms of the protection if offers from diseases, but also in enhancing the reputation of British seed.”

AHDB head of crop trade market development, Rob Burns, who has long supported the standards, added: “In my role I travel widely working with foreign countries to open new markets for seed potatoes and many of the nations we deal with have a lot of respect for the Safe Haven Standards and the protection it brings.

“However, we are often asked about whether the scheme covers other diseases, such as silver scurf or black dot, or even more exotic pests and diseases like epitrix or zebra chip. For some potential trading relationships, a broader scheme could be even more attractive, which is why I think the review is important and that growers should engage with it. We’re looking forward to gathering more feedback in the coming months.”

The Safe Haven Standards were initially introduced after a ring rot outbreak in England and Wales in 2003 from seed sourced from the Netherlands. The scheme was later widened to include Dickeya and has been largely successful at protecting GB seed stocks from these diseases, with 60% of growers certified (by area) under the Safe Haven Standards.

Growers can contribute their views until the questionnaire closing date of February 7 and thereafter Red Tractor will work with organisations, such as AHDB and the James Hutton Institute, on an updated version of the standards. That new scheme could go out for industry consultation in the autumn of 2019.