NSA pressure ensures no cliff edge for EU sheepmeat exports

NSA pressure ensures no cliff edge for EU sheepmeat exports

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed the news that Defra has confirmed a further extension to resolve the problem of the EU Animal Health Regulation requiring vet attestations of livestock health rather than a farmer declaration, as is currently the case.

Until recently Defra had proposed that as of next month every farm exporting meat products to the EU would have to have a vet conducted attestation of health status accompanying all animals to slaughter.

NSA recently fought, along with others, to ensure these changes did not come into force in the alarmingly short time scale that Defra had suggested leaving only a month for adjustments.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “It is a relief that Defra has realised the unachievable reality of their judgement, and although NSA has managed to buy time this is an issue that will have to be revisited in the near future. The change, from a farmer declaration to a veterinary attestation, was proposed to be introduced in order to be fully compliant with the EU Animal Health Regulations. However, farmers, the supply chain, and veterinary surgeons were not in a place to be able to deliver this with such short notice.”

Following pressure from industry bodies Defra has now reviewed the date and pushed it back until December 2023, by which time certification will need to take place based on either membership of a qualifying farm assurance scheme or via a valid veterinary declaration. A vet declaration is the best way to provide evidence that exports comply with EU requirements. 

Stocker continued: “With 72% of all meat exports and 96% of all sheepmeat exports going to the EU, this is a vital market that needs to kept open, and accessible. Defra is understandably keen to ensure the UK sector  s fully compliant with EU law to avoid any disruption in trade – but changes like this take time to find solutions for and they must be practical and take account of the way our industry operates.

“NSA is continuing to highlight the challenges and input into the practicalities of Defra’s long-term approach and keen that this issue is picked up immediately to agree and implement solutions as soon as possible and avoid us being in the same place this time next year.” 

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