Arable and horticulture update

​Seed potatoes – Windsor Framework
Potato harvesting underway. Picture: Cliff DonaldsonPotato harvesting underway. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Potato harvesting underway. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Early signals and understanding suggests seed potato movements could be possible from Autumn 2023 from Great Britain (GB) into Northern Ireland (NI) for growing by registered growers. It is understood seed potatoes would travel in the ‘green lane’ into NI for the production of a seed crop and could be entered into the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) seed potato certification scheme and then can be sold into the Republic of Ireland (ROI) / European Union (EU) or back to GB grown as a ware crop.

For ware growers to avail of new seed potato delivery arrangements, they will be required to register as a professional grower with DAERA. The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) understand DAERA will still require pre-notification of all seed potato lot movements. Full details of the new procedures will be issued by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and DAERA prior to the Autumn.

As a result of this agreement, plants and seeds staying in NI will move from GB on a virtually identical basis to those moving elsewhere within the United Kingdom (UK).

Instead of full EU certification, all plants and seeds will move under the existing UK wide plant passport scheme, in line with traders throughout the UK.

Previously banned seed potatoes from Autumn 2023 will once again be available from other parts of the UK while remaining prohibited in Ireland.

The agreement has also made provision to pave the way to remove bans on 11 native British and other commercially important plant species by the next planting season. This would unlock tree and shrub movements between the UK and EU overall.

The new proposed framework indicates it would remove needless certification requirements for used agricultural and forestry machinery, with the only requirement now being a single, self-applied label indicating the machinery will not move into the EU.

It is indicated that for those who can show that their goods will stay in NI, this should provide a radically simplified process for plant and seed movements, using the existing Trader Support Service (TSS). It is indicated that there will be no customs checks, except for risk-based and intelligence-led operations targeting criminality and smuggling.

DEFRA have indicated further work and details will be issued over the coming weeks, and in particular, once the package has been agreed by both sides at a forthcoming joint committee.

Black Sea grain talks

Ukraine is in talks to agree an extension to the Black Sea grain initiative, which allows the shipment of bulk commodities from its ports. The arrangement is due to expire on 18 March, unless an extension is agreed. Negotiations continue for the smooth implementation and further extension of the Black Sea grain deal.