Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, following a meeting of cabinet, announced his intention to launch a €3 million scheme of investment aid for the seed potato sector.
The scheme will accelerate development of capacity within the sector and aid improvements in the production, storage and marketing infrastructure of seed potatoes by providing grant assistance to producers towards the capital cost of specialized equipment and facilities.
The scheme will be funded utilising funding under Ireland’s allocation from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund (BAR).
As a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and following the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021, the import of seed potatoes from Great Britain into the EU is prohibited.
In announcing the scheme, Minister McConalogue stated, “in recognition of the challenges faced by the Irish potato sector in fulfilling its annual demand for access to high grade seed potato following the exit of the UK from the EU, I am delighted to announce approval of the scheme for this highly specialised farming activity.”
“This presents a timely opportunity for the Irish seed potato sector to develop capacity and expand to ensure a reliable supply of domestically produced high grade seed potato material, with the support of the dedicated Seed Certification Service provided by my department and the Tops Potato Centre in Donegal. There is great potential in reviving the domestic seed potato sector. I am committed to seeing it thrive once more once there is leadership from within the sector too. I believe we can restore the industry to its heyday nationally.”
Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity with special responsibility for horticulture in welcoming the announcement stated, “this scheme will be a hugely positive step in contributing to shorter supply chains and sector sustainability in a domestic industry that is synonymous with our country. Ireland is the only EU Member State designated a high health status under EU legislation for the growing of seed potatoes. Investing in the sector to facilitate increased availability of domestically produced high grade seed stocks for Irish ware growers is vitally important to protect our high health status and ensure the potato industry grows to its full potential.”
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is finalising preparations to launch the scheme which will be available for the period 2022 – 2023 and will conclude this work very shortly.