Since last week, the British Department of Agriculture (Defra) has banned the import of seed potatoes from the European Union (EU). This has consequences for the sale of Dutch seed potatoes.
On an annual basis, approximately 15,000 tons of seed potatoes are exported from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom (UK). Devra’s decision has everything to do with Brexit and is a reaction to the EU borders being closed to British seed potatoes since the beginning of this year.
Defra is particularly troubled by the EU’s hardline stance, which says the UK is not complying with phytosanitary rules. But according to the British, the standards for seed potatoes in the UK remain the same as for Brexit. Another attempt will be made this week in Brussels to find a solution to the free trade of seed potatoes between the UK and the EU.
years of business relations
In a radio interview with the BBC, British Potato Trade Association vice-chairman Sandy McGowan said the long-running business relationship between the seed potato sectors was in danger of ending. He states that the impact can be significant, especially for a few dozen Scottish seed growers. On an annual basis, the UK exports about 30 thousand tons of seed potatoes to the European mainland. This involves an amount of approximately 16 million euros.
McGowan hopes that agreements with the Netherlands on the import and export of seed potatoes will still be possible, if the European Union and the United Kingdom are unable to reach an agreement. Technically, it is quite possible to meet each other’s conditions for the supply of seed potatoes. But we are now at the mercy of politics.”
Political Officer Claes Johan Osinga of LTO Nederland and Director Gerard Backx of HZPC argued at Leeuwarder Courant last week to keep the UK-Europe border open. Osinga points out that the current political sentiment is not good. He stated that an earlier proposal from the LTO had not been accepted for a two-year transition period.
Incidentally, Bucks predicts that the consequences of closing the British border to HZPC will not be so bad. He argues that the loss of sales in the UK is likely to be offset by more sales in the rest of Europe.