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Reluctant to state no more sales of Seed Potatoes to EU and NI

No Seed Potatoes to EU & NI

We are reluctantly forced to close our online shop to customers in the EU and NI, which means that there will be no more sales of Seed Potatoes to EU and NI for the foreseeable future. We are disgusted that part of the United Kingdom is now a foreign market to us as well as the EU. We have been very vocal against Brexit, and now sadly many of our predictions are coming true.

We have grown our business over the last 20 years and viewed all 500 million citizens as our domestic market.

Until our government and the EU agree dynamic alignment of seed potato certification and plant health standards we are not permitted to send seed potatoes or table potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland.

Seed potatoes, like other plant, animal and food products are closely regulated for plant, animal and human health reasons. We require our the government and the EU to agree reciprocal, and probably dynamic, acceptance of seed certification and plant health standards. For potatoes we need something called Third Country Equivalence, but even with this there will be a huge increase in paperwork to supply our EU customers including phytosanitary and other documents required at customs (these are standard for other export markets).

Even once (if) a deal is done, and our standards are recognised in the EU, it might still not be possible for us to open the shop again – the paperwork required to accompany orders and the tariffs might be prohibitive. While this extra paperwork might be viable with larger orders, if/when the border opens again, most of our customers are smaller and the cost of paperwork might be prohibitive. EU exports are currently vital to our business so please stick with us.

We have tried as hard as possible to dispatch all existing orders in time – we will be in contact if any do not get out of the UK before the border closes. We would like to thank our loyal EU and Northern Ireland customers large and small for your custom and words of support recently, it really does mean a lot to us.

To all our friends across the EU and Northern Ireland – Have a lovely Christmas!
From our family firm,
Potato House
Skea Family, staff, and colleagues
24th December 2020

For background information on this please see the following (or search for “Brexit seed potatoes”).

New links are added when we see something in the Press – please let us know if we have missed anything.

Deep concerns for Dundee and Angus farming amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty
Dundee Courier 20/2/19
Brexit: Potato growers treated like pawns in political game Farmers Weekly 24/12/20
EU to allow post-Brexit UK farm produce exports – BBC 24/12/2020
Brexit and trade: Tattie buy bye – BBC – 14/10/2020
Brexit: Seed potato sector on brink of EU and NI export ban – Potato News 22/10/20
EU rejects application to resume British seed potato exports Press and Journal 30/1/21
Parliamentarians: British seed potato farmers continue to face Brexit struggle Potato News 16/12/21
Scotland’s important tattie trade sacrificed to Brexit, says Herald gardener Dave Allan (note there is a error – “is now”….should be “was” 40% of business.  We have been unable to supply to our customers since 31st Dec 2020) Herald 12/2/22
Europatat calls on the European Parliament for an urgent solution in restoring normal EU-GB trade in seed potatoes.  16/3/22
Farming: Scotland’s seed potato growers paying high economic price, The Scotsman 22/6/22
Our Tatties are in Trouble and it’s all down to Brexit  Ruth Watson, The National, 22/8/22
Scottish Seed Potato Growers Fly the Flag in Spain Katrina Macarthur, Press & Journal, 14/2/23
Resumption of Seed Potato Trade with Northern Ireland on 30 September Welcomed by NFU Scotland NFU Scotland 19/09/2023

Rules about Seed Potatoes coming from GB to NI Northern Irish Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Significant updates

When the Prime Minister announced in the 2023 that the Windsor Framework would allow Seed Potatoes back into Northern Ireland, we were quietly optimistic.  See BBC article. Politicians from all sides across NI, UK and EU seemed to agree on evertyhing – isn’t that amazing!  Ironically, Rishi Sunak, the PM was selling the benefits of the EU very well:

He said if his deal was accepted, Northern Ireland would be in a “unique position in the entire world, European continent, in having privileged access not just to the UK home market, which is enormous, fifth biggest in the world, but also the European Union’s single market. Nobody else has that.”

As it is that good, why are we not all allowed this privileged access to both worlds?

Red Lanes, Green Lanes, it was sounding like a children’s nursery rhyme.  However, like most nursery rhymes, it takes a bit to untangle the true meaning.    We are still prohibited from selling to the public and have to sell to a business like a garden centre or a commercial grower.  There are many forms to fill in, and procedures to go through, which we are in the middle of.  We are not sure if small orders will be feasible.   As we specialise in small orders of many different varieties, we will have lots of things to think about.  If you have a business in Northern Ireland, please get in touch. 

We would love to be selling to our customers and have been asked several times to try.   Smuggling to a part of the UK – who on earth would have thought that we have been asked this?  I am a bit too old to be a pirate! 

The latest BBC update shows in black and white that we are still unable to sell to the NI public.  We are still livid that we are unable to sell to our customers.  Nearly 3  years on from our initial statement above, we are getting almost daily emails from our customers in NI and across the EU.  We miss you and hope to welcome you back to our site soon, but in the meantime we suggest the politicians should be locked in a room and served rice and pasta until they sort this mess out.

The GB seed potato ban will also be partially revoked: trade between registered operators will be possible but not sales direct to consumers.

 

The welcome news that the Northern Irish government is resuming at Stormont after a 2-year break is tempered with knowing that Seed Potatoes is not a priority to discuss.   We have been in touch with Northern Irish Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who responded to our query that nothing has changed.
Email 1/2/24

This is very, very early days on this new deal. The full  legislative documents and the   full implications of these are yet to realised  and have certainly not reached us yet.  So unfortunately at this stage I cannot  provide you with any information on how the new deal will affect seed potato imports into NI.

More reading – Devolved government in Northern Ireland will be restored after a 23-month hiatus, following a decision by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).  BBC 1/2/24

6 thoughts on “Reluctant to state no more sales of Seed Potatoes to EU and NI

  1. Teresa Dykstra says:

    I am so very very sorry that I can not order the lovely Charlotte pototoes because I live in Ireland

    1. Amy Skea says:

      We are incredibly disappointed that we can’t service your order and the 1000s of customers across Ireland and the rest of the EU as well as Northern Ireland. We had hoped that this situation would have been resolved by now, but to be honest it does not look any more likely. The politicians need to be shut in a room and served rice and pasta! If you have time, it would be great if you could write to your MP. It really is disgraceful that we are prohibited to sell to EU. We are getting almost daily emails from people like yourself.
      We hope to welcome you back to our site for 2023 season

  2. graham Pearson says:

    ” We have been very vocal against Brexit, and now sadly many of our predictions are coming true.” Which predictions? That the EU is a military Block sanctioning Russia whom we have to live with unless you can think of a way of “getting rid of them”. That would be no small potatoes.

    By the way do you export to Russia, the country is vast and you could be a beneficiary. Russian agriculture is booming under EU Sanctions.

    Why are we and Russia sanctioned by the EU? Why is Northern Ireland sanctioned by the EU?

    1. Amy Skea says:

      Hi Graham – if you follow the links above and note the dates, you will see that prior to Brexit we stated that if there was no deal that we would lose a third of our customers. At every twist and turn before the end of 2020, there were many deadlines and we were told that the government had an oven-ready deal and that nothing would change. Sadly the oven has no tattie to put in there. We have grown our business over the last 20 years and suddenly we have to say no to our valued, loyal customers. I had an email TODAY asking about sending seed potatoes to Ireland. I’d prefer that this page does not become a political tit-for-tat and I invite you to carry this conversation on Twitter. https://twitter.com/PotatoHouseUK

  3. David Barnes says:

    Truly shocking that the Boris and Co have brought us to this pass!

    1. Amy Skea says:

      We are now in May and we are still getting phonecalls from existing and new customers from EU and NI asking about potatoes. Sadly the situation does not look better for 2022. Thank you for your support!

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