Ban on seed potato imports will have ‘devastating consequences’

Potato growers in Northern Ireland face a “severe shortage of seed potatoes” in 2022, according to TUV leader, Jim Allister.
TUV leader, Jim Allister.TUV leader, Jim Allister.
TUV leader, Jim Allister.

The politician said ‘absurd EU law and sleepwalking MLAs’ are to blame for the ban on imports to the province from Great Britain.

“The future of our potato sector relies on ready access to seed potatoes from Great Britain,” Mr Allister stated.

“Yet, under the iniquitous Protocol, the importation of seed potatoes from GB is banned because GB is now declared a ‘third country’ and, thus, subject to the ban which arises under Regulation EU 2016/2031.

“This absurd and destructive situation arises because, despite my warnings, MLAs - including every DUP and UUP member - voted to implement this and other EU Regulations - 45 in all.

“Only Jim Wells and I voted against.”

He continued: “On 8 December 2020, in face of a warning from me of the serious import of what it was about to do, the Assembly approved The Plant Health and Diseases of Animals (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.

“Under Paragraph 2(3) of same, the Assembly embraced section 41 of Annex 2 of the Protocol.

“The said section 41 imposed Regulation EU 2016/2031, which, among other things, bans the importation of seed potatoes from ‘third countries’.”

Mr Allister said it is this provision which now “bans seed potatoes coming from GB to Northern Ireland” and will have “devastating consequences for the potato sector”.

He added: “Going into next year, our potato sector faces severe shortage of seed potatoes - as does the Republic - because of this absurd EU law and the sleepwalking of 81 MLAs.

“Some unionist MLAs are now protesting the adverse impact on the sector, but when it mattered they were blindly voting for this ludicrous seed ban.

“In this we have yet another example of the punitive and preposterous impact of the Protocol, which must go in all its parts,” Mr Allister ended.