Potato industry warned of foreign beetle risk

The UK potato industry could be dealt a devastating blow if a species of beetle is allowed to enter the country, the NFU has claimed.

At a meeting held by the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) earlier this year, the industry recognised that the Epitrix potato flea beetle posed a significant threat to UK potato production and agreed on a series of short-term measures - one of which was to notify FERA of products bought from the affected countries.

However, the NFU has said this does not go far enough and that the notification system should be set on a statutory basis as soon as possible.

NFU potato forum chairman Allan Stevenson said: "We hope that the entire industry will join forces to call for statutory measures to ensure swift action against this threat.

"It is vital that we take the lead in Europe on this issue to protect our growers from any possible harm."

Meanwhile, growers, processors and packers are being urged by the potato industry to notify FERA if they buy products from Spain and Portugal. This is because both these countries are affected by the beetle, which is at risk of spreading to the UK.

If this happens, experts predict it could wipe £40m from the potato market in this country. They have said that if it does reach the UK, it would be impossible to eradicate and costly to control.

The European & Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation has published a pest risk assessment on Epitrix sooner than expected, which may provoke EU-wide measures to actively manage the pest.

The NFU has stressed, however, that growers should continue with the FERA notification scheme. Notifications must include an expected delivery date, grower name and address, grower registration number, contact number, load number and whether potatoes have been washed or brushed.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

The UK fresh-produce sector has reacted with dismay at the latest developments in the ongoing debate, largely conducted out of public view, on whether UK horticulture will still have access to seasonal migrant workers when the UK leaves the EU in 18 months' time.

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, a new report argues.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon