Efra launches inquiry into Brexit meat and seafood delays
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) has launched an inquiry into how the Government can support meat and fish exporters following the impact of Brexit.
The industries have been hit with severe border delays which as a result of new Brexit regulations which are causing a “serious and sustained loss of trade”, according to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA).
The broader inquiry, which will now begin accepting written evidence, will explore both long- and short-term action plans for exports to the EU, whilst also scrutinising the Government’s immediate response to disruptions over the past month. The Committee is also asking questions of the UK’s preparedness for checking food imports from the EU later this year, and what lessons have been learnt from the last month.
Neil Parish MP, chair of the EFRA Committee, said: “A month of delays, disruption and red tape have meant food export businesses large and small have lost many tens of thousands of pounds. This needs to be gripped by the Government at the highest level before businesses go to the wall.
“It is also clear that systems need to be streamlined, businesses supported, and mitigation plans made ahead of upcoming checks on food imports.”
“While news of the compensation fund for fish is welcome, we need details, and fast. It’s time for the Government to get its act together and set out short, medium and long-term action plans for how it will support British food exporters. It is also clear that systems need to be streamlined, businesses supported, and mitigation plans made ahead of upcoming checks on food imports.”
Fishing exporters had also reported significant price drops as a result of the border delays, which had pushed the seafood industry to “rock bottom”, in the words of Donna Fordyce, head of Seafood Scotland.
However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a £23 million compensation fund for businesses within the seafood sector which could prove significant loss as a result of the delays.
The Committee has since written to Environment Minister, George Eustice, seeking clarification on Defra’s £23 million support package for the seafood sector. It is also seeking details on eligibility criteria for the support package and where the funds have been sourced from.