The UK’s largest veterinary body has voiced strong criticism of the Government’s decision to scrap the planned introduction of import checks on animals and animal products coming into the UK from 1 July 2022.
In a written ministerial statement issued on 28 April 2022, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister for Brexit Opportunities, said that no further import controls on EU goods will be introduced this year. The Government will instead develop a “new regime of import controls”, with a target introduction date by the end of 2023.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has repeatedly warned that delaying checks, which have already been pushed back three times, could have serious implications for animal health and British agriculture, and open up a threat of the incursion of diseases such as African swine fever.
James Russell, BVA senior vice president, said: “This move flies in the face not only of common sense, but also of the Government’s commitment to preserving high levels of animal and human health in the UK.
“Diseases such as African swine fever have already had a catastrophic impact on agriculture and animal health in parts of Europe and elsewhere globally. With the UK now being outside the EU’s integrated and highly responsive surveillance systems, we have repeatedly warned that delaying veterinary checks further could weaken vital lines of defence against future incursions.
“To remove the requirement for checks entirely appears deeply misguided; we urge the Government to abandon these plans and close off the threat of causing significant damage to our food and farming industries. If not, the Government must urgently set out how it will safeguard animal health and welfare in the UK in the coming months.”