NFU Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on exporting Scottish seed potatoes to the Europe Union and Northern Ireland by calling for UK Governments to explore all possible avenues to reopen these markets.

The union said that reciprocal arrangements, in accordance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), should be put in place as soon as possible, achieving equivalence across all imports and exports.

NFUS also stated that it was 'fully supportive' of Scottish Government’s proposal to work across Great Britain to develop a thriving and self-contained seed potato market, which would help address the ongoing disadvantage being experienced by Scotland’s seed potato businesses following the loss of established markets in NI and the EU post Brexit.

However, with regard to the consultation proposal about examining a ‘Scotland-specific’ agreement with the EU, the union was categorical that this was 'not a valuable use of resources across Governments' or of benefit to the sector, would be against the UK Internal Market Act 2020, and that the priority activity should be channelled into resolving the current disparity and building a prosperous, sustainable market.

President Martin Kennedy said: “We have welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on seed potato exports. Our principal response is that securing an agreement under the TCA as soon as possible is essential as time is of the essence. Seed potato growers across the UK are being severely impacted by the continued blocking of the UK’s application for equivalency which is incompatible with the TCA.

“There has to be parity for the sector," he insisted. "The current derogation that allows EU seed potatoes to come into the UK until the end of June 2021 has been unhelpful in encouraging an agreement on equivalence and we are calling for this not to be extended.

“We are also advocating Government support for identifying and developing a thriving, sustainable market within GB. Scotland’s seed potato producers are seeking such opportunities and security so that they can grow with confidence knowing that there is a identified market for their high-quality produce.

“NFU Scotland will continue to lobby both governments with urgency to safeguard Scotland’s high-value potato industry. We must focus on what is clearly achievable through the TCA and work towards the right and proper outcome for our significant seed potato sector and its economic importance to Scotland.”