Growers involved in the horticulture and soft-fruit sector highlighted a number of issues arising from the imposition of the NI protocol when they met with members of the Stormont Agriculture committee last Thursday.

Giving evidence, Co Antrim garden centre owner John Shannon said that he had no difficultly bringing in plant material from Britain prior to Brexit, but since 1 January 2021 everything has changed.

NI consumers are having to pay more because of the extra bureaucracy and hassle

“The primary reason is the paperwork, the phytosanitary certificates,” said Shannon, who added that he now has to go and collect the plants himself direct from nurseries in England.

“It is leading to a lot of consumer annoyance. NI consumers are having to pay more because of the extra bureaucracy and hassle. This extra bureaucracy is a nonsense. It is not necessary,” he said.


Also giving evidence, Tyrone soft fruit grower Peter Donnelly said that since the NI protocol come into operation he has found it extremely difficult to bring in root stock from Britain.

“Either the paperwork is too hard, or the propagators don’t want to bother with us. We are now 100% reliant on propagators in Holland,” he said.

The other main issue raised was the import of trees, with around 25 species, if grown in Britain, prohibited for export into the EU plant health area (which includes NI). Among those species are Oak, Beech and Birch, confirmed Sally Cullimore from the Horticultural Trades Association.

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