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Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots has again asked for action on the issues facing the horticulture sector as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), agreed between the UK and the EU.

The Minister had previously written to Secretary of State George Eustice and Irish Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) Minister, Charlie McConalogue regarding the movement of seeds, plants and plant products into Northern Ireland from GB post Transition Period under the NIP. The Minister has now raised the issue during this week’s Inter-Ministerial Group with Ministers from England, Scotland and Wales.

Speaking about the issue, Minister Poots said: “As things stand, the implementation of the NI Protocol continues to prevent the marketing in NI of many plants, plant products and vegetable seeds from Great Britain (GB) that are of significant importance to the agriculture and horticulture sectors. This includes the movement of soil from 3rd countries, including where it is associated with plants.

“The importance of allowing trade to continue is absolutely vital to the agriculture and horticulture sector’s viability and associated economic activity. This is an urgent issue and will have significant impacts on important NI and ROI trade. That is why I have written to both the UK Secretary of State George Eustice and Irish Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) Minister, Charlie McConalogue to raise these concerns for immediate action.”

Speaking about the passage of the SR ‘The Plant Health and Diseases of Animals (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) through the Assembly, the Minister said: “I’d like to clarify the purpose of the SR debated in the Assembly on the 8 December 2020, as there seems to be confusion among some members.

“The SR could not change the consequences of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as voted for by the Westminster government. The prohibition of the movement of soil from 3rd countries, including where it is associated with plants, are mandatory obligations imposed by the Protocol and the SR could not have changed that.”