Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
675. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to seed potato producers in Scotland ceasing to prepare seed potato inputs for Irish farmers as a result of ongoing Brexit related issues; the estimated impact be on Irish potato growers in future seasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49747/21]
676. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to promote the development of the domestic seed potato industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49748/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 675 and 676 together.
The Department supports the Irish seed potato sector through the production of High-Grade seed material at the Department's facility in Tops Potato Centre Co. Donegal. In addition, the Department provides funding to Teagasc who carry out a very successful potato breeding programme.
As a further support my Department has a nationwide seed certification team in place to ensure the production of high-grade seed with the capability to deliver on additional acreage and laboratory capacity, if required. The Certification Scheme includes soil and tuber sampling and testing for pest and disease control. This high-quality disease-free seed is made available to the industry for further multiplication and supply to commercial growers and for export.
The Department also participates in the Potato Development Group, which has representation from Bord Bia, Teagasc and the IFA and is actively investigating future markets for Irish potatoes.
Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 1st January 2021 and the departure of the UK from the EU, Ireland is the only EU Member State designated a high health status under EU legislation for the growing of seed potatoes. Also, with the UK’s new status as a ‘Third Country’ the import of seed potatoes is currently prohibited.
Notwithstanding the challenges, I am firmly of the view that there is significant potential to increase the production and supply of Irish grown seed potatoes. I am committed to further developing this sector.
This potential can only be achieved through close collaboration and full buy-in within the sector. I consider an industry led approach, supported by DAFM, will be the most viable sustainable approach.