UK meat production set to become ‘non-compliant’ for export to the EU
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) in partnership with other leading trade bodies has written to Defra minister Mark Spencer as a matter of urgency, to alert him to new red tape that his department is about to impose on 13th December, which the Association and supporting trade bodies say could see a huge amount of British meat exports to the EU become non-compliant overnight.
If the change goes ahead, BMPA say it will be yet another shot in the foot for the British economy, with substantial and unintended consequences for farmers, processors and consumers alike.
BMPA also point out that with a cabinet reshuffle now going ahead, following the appointment of a new prime minister, regardless of who the Defra minister is by this time next week, “the clock is ticking” and BMPA say that along with other trade bodies it will do everything it can to avert the impending damage to the UK’s meat export market.
We reproduce the letter to the minister in full below:
Minister of State,
Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs
Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP.
17th October 2022
We are writing to alert you to a serious issue that threatens to cause a market disrupting event from 13th December this year and embroil the Government in a new controversy. If regulatory changes about to be introduced by Defra to the attestation of health status accompanying animals for slaughter are allowed to go ahead on that date, a significant amount of the UK’s meat production will become non-compliant for export to the EU overnight. Accompanying this letter are some notes covering the technical difficulties involved in trying to implement Defra’s plan.
With 72% of all meat exports going to the EU, this will have a devastating effect on farmers, auction markets and meat processors. We believe it will have an immediate impact on livestock prices here in the UK as well as causing significant and costly disruption for the supply chain. This in turn will drive food price inflation for consumers as the industry is forced to recover lost export revenue and additional costs through higher prices.
The issue is simple and entirely avoidable.
Since the EU introduced a requirement for farms to have regular animal health visits by a vet to become export compliant, farmers have been able to comply with EU Animal Health Regulations (AHR) by providing a simple farmer declaration that vet visits have been done.
However, in May this year, Defra took the unilateral decision to add a UK-only requirement for a veterinary attestation. Not only is this not required by the EU but, given the current shortage of vets and the sheer number of farms that would need to be visited afresh, we estimate it would take many months to implement this new rule.
During this time, thousands of farmers will see their livestock considerably devalued as they will be denied access to the export market, at least part of almost every animal in the country gets exported, even if it is only the skin or hide which has significant value.
Defra agreed to postpone enacting the new rule until 13 December to allow for further discussions. However, our warnings of the unintended consequences seem to be being ignored and as representatives of the whole supply chain we believe the UK meat industry is now faced with an instant loss of a significant portion of its EU export market overnight for no other reason than Defra’s decision to add an extra layer of bureaucracy, but with no time to implement it.
Far from reducing red tape as this Government aims to do, this plan will add even more and cost British producers dear.
Accompanying this letter are some notes covering the technical difficulties involved in trying to implement Defra’s plan. We have also offered an alternative approach that would achieve the same desired ends, but that could be implemented without causing serious disruption to this key UK industry.
With the clock ticking on this market disrupting event we feel we have no choice but to bring this to your attention and ask to meet with you urgently so you can consider intervening to avoid the damage that will occur.
We are available to meet with you at your convenience and eagerly await your response.
Please respond to email@example.com. Nick will liaise with the other organisations.
Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS)
British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA)
British Poultry Association (BPA)
British Pig Association (BPA)
British Meat Processing Association (BMPA)
International Meat Trade Association (IMTA)
Livestock Auctioneers’ Association Limited (LAA)
National Farmers Union (NFU)
National Farmers Union Wales(NFUC)
National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS)
National Pigs Association (NPA)
National Sheep Association (NSA)
Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW)
Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS)