Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey has welcomed Cabinet approval of a new scheme to revive the Irish seed potato industry. The €3m in funding will come from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve – the EU’s emergency instrument to support countries negatively affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.
Markey, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, said Brexit is having a significant impact on trade in seed potatoes between Ireland and Great Britain.
“We have relied on Scotland a lot over the last number of years for seed and a result of Brexit, we can no longer import that seed so it’s crucial that will re-establish the industry here in Ireland. I have been calling for the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to be used to make it happen and I was delighted that the Cabinet approved the new scheme today. Ireland is the only EU state designated as having a ‘high health status’ for the growing of seed potatoes and we have a track record of producing high quality product. This announcement will kick-start the sector once again and avoid importing potential disease problems. At a time when food security and food sovereignty is such a concern, we should be doing all we can to support the Irish potato sector, particularly given our history”, he commented.
The Midlands-North-West MEP said he would continue to make the case for a temporary derogation to reverse the ban on Scottish seed entering Ireland.
“This fund will be available for 2022-2023 but re-establishing the industry will take longer so I will continue to push for some form of derogation at EU level to allow the movement of seed potatoes from the UK back into Ireland for a limited period. It’s something I have raised consistently at the AGRI Committee and with the Commission itself. The issues is not only causing problems in Ireland but also in Scotland, which grows 75% of the UK’s seed potatoes. Obviously, we are at a sensitive stage of the post-Brexit relationship but I would hope that common sense prevails and a solution is found to help Ireland make the transition to becoming more self-sufficient when it comes to domestic seed production”, he concluded.