Meat industry calls for more vets ahead of Brexit deadline

Meat industry calls for more vets ahead of Brexit deadline

Major meat trade associations, including the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and the International Meat Trade Association (IMTA), have called for the lack of vets to be addressed before the end of the transition period.

Twenty-nine associations across the food, logistics and farming industries have co-signed the letter which is addressed to environment secretary George Eustice.

The letter raises concerns about the shortage of Official Veterinarians (OV) that will be needed to cope with the surge in demand for export health certificates (EHC) required for any Product Of Animal Origin – whether it is fresh, frozen, processed or an ingredient – to cross the border into the EU (or Northern Ireland) from 1st January 2021.

The letter outlines three specific actions which need to be addressed. These include making more Government-employed OVs available for this work, to simplify the guidance about how OVs can rely on existing controls, and to increase the role of Certification Support Officers.

“We are asking the Secretary of State to use this crucial window of opportunity before the changes come into force on 1st January to increase certification resource and simplify the export process.”

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, submitted the letter to Mr Eustice on behalf of the signatories. He said: “Businesses throughout the food supply chain are working hard to prepare for the new requirements for exporting meat and dairy products to the EU, but the Government has to play its part too. The shortage of Official Veterinarians to meet the great increase in demand for Export Health Certificates is going to be compounded by the complexity and cost of the processes underpinning the new certification requirements.

“The food and logistics industries have been raising this issue with Government for the past four years. We are asking the Secretary of State to use this crucial window of opportunity before the changes come into force on 1st January to increase certification resource and simplify the export process. Without urgent action from Government, we can expect a reduction of between 50 and 75% in the volume of the meat and dairy export trade to the EU, especially to Ireland and Northern Ireland, in the months after 1st January.”

The letter was also supported by the British Poultry Council, the National Farmers Union, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors and the Food and Drink Federation.

Photograph: Defra secretary, George Eustice.

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