Concern Remains Over Northern Ireland Potato Seed Supply
Concern remains for Northern Ireland potato producers who warn they will still be unable to import seed from mainland UK. It comes just days after UK government action to relax trade in plants from UK to Northern Ireland has been welcomed. Rosemary Barton, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs spokesperson, has welcomed the news that the government is to ease the trade in plants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which she said has been so badly affected by the imposition of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Rosemary Barton said: “One of the most ludicrous outworkings of the Northern Ireland Protocol was the insistence that soil from other parts of our own country could not legally enter Northern Ireland. This has obviously caused huge problems for a number of local industries – not least garden centers.
The news that the UK Government has acted and taken what it describes as ‘temporary, practical arrangements’ that will relax the rule and permit bulbs and vegetables that have been grown in soil to be sent from UK to NI will be well received by our local horticultural industry.
“Further, the permitting of the movement of plants grown in containers with soil attached from authorized businesses in UK to Northern Ireland, will enable the UK businesses to trade again and the Northern Ireland businesses to stock up for the spring. Agricultural machinery movement has also been eased without the need for a plant health certificate. It is however very disappointing for the potato producers that, to date, there has been no easement on seed potatoes, which proves how important it is that a permanent solution is found and the Northern Ireland Protocol abolished.”