NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has said she is ‘incredibly concerned’ about the future of live exports of breeding pigs after the transition period ends.
Dr Davies recently attended the Brexit breeding groups meeting with Defra, which was initially set up by NPA to address specific issues faced by the breeding companies as part of EU Exit.
Among the issues discussed were the implication for exports of breeding stock if there is no trade deal in place by January 1, 2021, which, after the events of the past few days, appears increasingly likely. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a trade deal with the EU must be agreed by October 15, insisting that if this does not happen, both sides should ‘accept that and move on’, adding that it would be a ‘good outcome’ for the UK.
There could also be implications even if a deal is in place with the EU.
As things currently stand, after January 1, any live animal exported to the EU will have to pass through a Border Control Post (BCP) on entering the EU to enable the correct veterinary checks to be made. At present, there are no registered BCPs at ports in France, the Netherlands or Belgium – the nearest is Spain.
Most UK breeding animals are exported from Dover to Calais as this is the shortest route. Already this year over 10,000 breeding pigs have now been exported through this route, a trade that is not only very important for UK businesses, but vital for the future of the UK herd. But if the French ports do not register as a BCP for live animals, the trade would effectively cease as there are few alternative options, Dr Davies explained.
“I remain incredibly concerned about the future of live breeding pig exports if we don’t have a deal in place,“ she said.
“If this trade is unable to continue, breeding companies may well be forced to leave UK and relocate to more accessible countries, which would have a significant knock-on effect on the whole industry. Not only would we have to import more breeding stock, which could carry enhanced biosecurity threats, the imports would also cost more and herd productivity could be severely affected longer term.”
Even a deal is reached with the EU, animals may still have to go through BCPs, Zoe added.
The decision on whether or not to apply to become a BCP for live animals is down to the port authority itself. The NPA is currently in the process of working with all other affected sectors to contact the ports individually seek a viable solution.
The issue with breeding stock is one element of the of the wider concern within the industry about potential delays at ports that could also have implications for UK exports of cull sow carcasses and other pork products to the EU in the event of no deal.
The British Meat Processors Association has today warned that ‘glaring weaknesses’ in the Government’s export plans after January 2, 2021, are potentially putting £1.2bn of meat exports, plus thousands of jobs at risk.
Meanwhile, a group of eight industry logistics organisations, including the Road Haulage Association, has warned the Government that Britain’s supply chains are at risk of ‘severe’ disruption from new post-Brexit rules unless ministers take urgent action.
In a letter to the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, they raised concerns over IT systems, the funding to train up customs agents and the pace of physical infrastructure being built.
They asked for an ‘urgent’ meeting with Minister, including Mr Gove, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Schapps, insisting that the supply chain must be protected ahead of a potential second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group said they were increasingly concerned there were ‘significant gaps’ in the Government’s efforts to provide a functional cross-border trade system.
“If these issues are not addressed, disruption to UK business and the supply chain that we all rely so heavily on will be severely disrupted,” the organisations warned.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The Border Operating Model sets out in significant detail the approach to UK border controls after the transition period. We worked closely with industry in its development and will continue to do so.”