UK Growers Want Disease-free Status

Published online: Jan 19, 2004
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Potato growers in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland plan a joint approach to protect their regions from the ring rot outbreak in Wales by having them declared disease-free status with seed imports banned.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland, the Irish Farmers Association and the Ulster Farmers Union have agreed to pursue the issue with the European Union in Brussels.

NFU potateos working group chairman Sandy Bayne said it was vital for the European industry that it should have continued access to high health potato seed produced in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic

The group has agreed to press Brussels to introduce regions across Europe, currently free of ring rot and brown rot, where seed potato production can be protected from these diseases.

The effect of introducing protected regions would be to ban the importation of seed potatoes other than mini-tubers into these high-health areas. This is an issue of real importance to potato growers across Europe.

"We believe that protecting seed potato aresas from imported disease is essential to the industry's future," Bayne said.

"This would allow us to introduce fruther safeguards to ensure diseases such as ring rot and brown rot are not introduced into Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Scotland."