Government is “paving the way for unlevel playing field” – NSA on import checks

Government is “paving the way for unlevel playing field” – NSA on import checks

A potential decision to delay import checks on produce coming to the UK from the EU yet again means – seven years on from the Brexit vote – British producers are still operating at a disadvantage, the National Sheep Association (NSA) said.

Sheep huddled together in a pen.
The NSA said that all British produce shipped to the EU has been subject to full EU import controls.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “British livestock producers whose businesses have relied on selling quality breeding stock into the EU have been at a standstill for the past three years – since the Brexit deal was finalised in 2020 – due to the absence of any Border Control Posts with live animal facilities on the EU side on the short straits.

“Any animals that have made the journey have done so by travelling multiple times further, which is ridiculous on so many fronts. The UK Government has been helpless in doing anything to rectify this problem – and has now decided to again delay equivalent import checks on incoming produce.

“British produce being shipped to the EU has been subject to full EU import controls following the Brexit agreement and checks on EU imports should have originally come into place in January 2021 at the end of the Brexit transition period. Now the UK Government has once again delayed the introduction of these checks, the third timescale that has been missed.

Stocker argued the outcome of Brexit and new trade deals across the world mean UK industries are having to meet higher standards and greater export controls and costs, while the flow of goods into the UK without proper controls has been eased. Health certification on imports of ‘medium risk’ EU food products had been due to start in October with physical checks beginning in January 2024.

He continued: “The Government is paving the way for an unlevel playing field when it comes to trade, which is putting greater pressure on UK producers at an extremely volatile period of time for the industry, in particular those supplying raw ingredients. There must be value placed on the high health, welfare, biosecurity and environmental standards British farmers adhere to.”

As of yet, the Government has not announced further delays to the import checks, though industry anticipates that it will.

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