North-east MP presses Defra minister on seed potato exports
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Gordon MP Richard Thomson has welcomed a response he has received from Defra Minister of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food MP Victoria Prentis on the export of Scottish seed potatoes to the EU and Northern Ireland.
However, he said it represented yet another failure by the UK Government to protect a vital industry before the effects of Brexit kicked-in.
Mr Thomson also raised the issue in a debate in Westminster earlier this month.
In response to Mr Thomson’s latest approach on the issue, the minister said: “Defra fully appreciates the importance of Scotland’s seed potato industry, not only for ware production across the UK but also for export, and its deserved reputation for high quality.
"I understand the concerns Scottish seed potato producers have regarding the export of seed potatoes and can reassure you that Defra is working hard to find solutions.”
Commenting on the response, Mr Thomson said: “While I welcome the fact that the minister has again recognised the value of the Scottish seed potato export business and its exceptional quality, there is no getting away from the fact that a failure on the part of the UK Government to get to grips with the detail prior to agreeing a date for Brexit has meant this industry has lost around 20 per cent of its export market overnight.
"That’s before one takes into account the valuable Northern Irish market from which Scottish exporters are also excluded.
“As I said after the Westminster Hall debate earlier this month, the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, who was sent out to defend this unholy mess showed some signs that she – perhaps alone within the UK Government – recognised that this cannot continue.
"The key test will be whether those supporters of a hard Brexit within the Conservative Government are willing to countenance any possible arrangement with the EU that the minister proposes.”