IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe led a delegation from the National Potato Committee to meet Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to discuss the impact of Brexit on Irish potato farmers and supports required to develop the Irish seed potato industry.
IFA Potato Chairman Thomas McKeown said “as a result of Brexit, the importation of seed potato from Scotland is banned under EU plant health regulation. This is a massive issue for Irish farmers as Ireland is heavily reliant on the UK market for seed potato, with approx. 60% of certified seed that is planted in Ireland coming from Scotland”.
“Our industry is proactive and growers can see the opportunity that will come from this challenge; however, it will take time, investment and expertise to reinvigorate the sector,” he said.
An IFA delegation, including a number of seed growers, visited Tops farm in Donegal this week to explore what opportunities are available and the scale of growth which is required. Currently approximately 280 hectares of seed is grown in Ireland and this area will need to be doubled to supply our domestic market.
“Even in an ideal world and if the industry doubled the area of seed grown this year, we would still have a shortfall for a number of years. It takes up to four years to get seed to pre-basic requirements,” Thomas McKeown said.
IFA put forward a number of proposals for potential supports for the seed potato sector especially under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve at the meeting.
Members on the call welcomed the Minister’s willingness to reinvigorate the sector. IFA will continue to liaise with senior department officials on funding and support options for the sector in the coming weeks.