More than £12.5 million worth of high quality Scottish seed and ware potatoes currently being lifted for European markets would be worth a fraction of their value and destined for stock feed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The risks to Scotland’s lucrative potato export trade were spelled out to Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon by Forfar-based IPM Potato Group operations manager David Chalmers during a briefing at the company’s AJ Allan base in Brechin.
As hundreds of tonnes of Cara and Galactica seed potatoes were loaded into containers bound for Egypt and the Canaries, Mr Chalmers described the disruption and trading difficulties that would lie ahead with both Europe and Third World countries if there is no Brexit deal.
He said 60% of seed produced by local farmers for the IPM business in Angus is exported to countries outside the EU, 10% to EU markets and the remainder to UK markets.
Ms Gougeon said she had written to the UK Government calling for assurances that seed could continue to be exported to “third” countries in the event of a no deal Brexit.
She added: “With just over two weeks to go until a potential no-deal, we are seeking urgent clarity from the UK Government on the potential impact on our farmers ability to trade with lucrative third country markets, such as Egypt which will result from changes in our trading relationships.”
Ms Gougeon wrote: “As 75% of the UK’s seed potatoes are grown in Scotland and Scottish seed is responsible for approximately 80% of UK seed potato exports, the impacts of a no-deal Brexit will disproportionately affect Scottish seed potato exporters.
“Seed potatoes from Scotland are world renowned for their high health status – they are of premium quality and are a successful and important part of Scotland’s rural economy.”