NORTHERN Ireland potato pro-ducers, led by Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, have met with DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice to highlight the ongoing issues facing the local industry.
Angus Wilson, from Wilson’s Country, and Charles McKillop, from Glens of Antrim, joined with the DUP representatives for the meeting with Mr Eustice, where issues arising from the NI Protocol dominated the agenda.
After the meeting, Ms Lockhart said: “The Protocol is causing major concern within the potato industry and today’s meeting was an opportunity to stress to the DEFRA Secretary of State the importance of bringing seed potato from GB into Northern Ireland.
“Over many years Scottish seed producers have developed a very sophisticated supply chain for quality seed potatoes that complement the demand for certain varieties here in Northern Ireland that cannot all be met by the local seed supply. This is not about displacing the supply of seed from within Northern Ireland but filling the gaps that cannot be met locally.
“The Northern Ireland industry concern is that the ware crop quality will decline at pace and imports of better-quality ware from GB with its access to Scottish seed will replace the local potato industry.
“That would be a disaster and an outcome that can be averted if the Government resolve the Protocol issue. Free flow of goods east-west, and north-south can be achieved once more if the political will is there.
“This was a very useful meeting and I appreciate both Angus and Charles coming to Westminster to put the case across for the local industry. We need action now and the Secretary of State George Eustice knows that we must see solutions soon.”