THE Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) potato committee are outraged to learn that several local packers and dealers have been lobbying for potatoes that have been produced outside of Northern Ireland (NI) to be imported from January 1.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, chair Robert Sibbett said, “We are shocked and horrified that a number of local processors, packers and dealers have given the impression that there is a supply and quality issue with our locally produced potatoes, going as far to state that imports are better. NI potato growers can produce the highest quality of seed potatoes, and packing and processing potatoes.
"This has been confirmed by a major retailer who stated they are happy with the quality, quantity and consistency of supply. NI has also been selected by a number of seed houses to propagate high grade seed for the international market due to our high-grade health status.
“Imported potatoes have the potential to bring disease and pathogens to our shore as some of the merchants are pushing for the importation of produce from high-risk areas. This shows no respect for NI potato growers.
“Further to this it has recently been demonstrated in Dover that a short, local supply chain has the greatest resilience for keeping shelves full. Therefore, we are calling on processors, packers and merchants to respect and work with our NI potato growers. This is vital to avail of the opportunities we now have to develop a bright and sustainable future for the benefit of NI consumers and our agriculture industry in its entirety.”