NI garden centre told British carrot seeds not available due to Brexit rules

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Ni Garden Centre Told British Carrot Seeds Not Available Due To Brexit Rules Ni Garden Centre Told British Carrot Seeds Not Available Due To Brexit Rules
Fruit and vegetables stock, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By David Young, PA

Carrot, cucumber and courgette are among the seeds a Northern Ireland garden centre owner has been told he cannot ship from Britain.

Tomato, runner bean, onion and lettuce seeds are also on the prohibited list that Robin Mercer received from his British supplier.

The supplier sent a list of more than 40 different seed types to Mr Mercer on Wednesday, advising him they would no longer be available due to new Irish Sea trading rules.

Northern Ireland’s continued compliance with EU rules on plant health means a variety of plants, seeds, plant products and soils cannot be imported from Britain.

Robin Mercer is the owner of Hillmount garden centres (Liam McBurney/PA)

Importers also face added red tape and bureaucracy to ship many other plants from Britain.

Mr Mercer, who owns Co Down garden centre business Hillmount, called on the UK government to act immediately to save Northern Ireland’s horticulture industry.

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“Every day poses a new problem and it’s not now or in the next month or during this spring season, these Brexit-related changes are going to impact the future of gardening for the rest of our lives,” he said.

“So I’m appealing to the government to step in and ensure that our industry is saved for the thousands of gardeners across Northern Ireland who enjoy the benefits of gardening for their mental health.”

Stockpiled

Mr Mercer said he had stockpiled seeds and other products prior to the end of the transition period in anticipation of problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs the new trading arrangements.

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“Every supplier I talk to gives me more bad news, a new problem or consequence with no solution,” he said.

“It’s a blessing in a way that we’re in lockdown as we just wouldn’t be able to sustain the stock for our customers if we were open. Originally we were told that there might be a two-week delay on seeds but now we’re being told that there will be no deliveries full stop and there is nothing to replace these seeds – once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

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He added: “For 80 years we have supported local suppliers and growers here but the reality is that around 50 per cent of our stock comes from outside Northern Ireland as we just don’t manufacture the goods or grow the plants here to meet customer demand.”

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