Government delays Brexit food import checks for fifth time

Post-Brexit border checks on food coming from the European Union will be delayed again
Post-Brexit border checks on food coming from the European Union will be delayed again

The government has confirmed that the roll out of post-Brexit border controls on food and fresh products will be delayed for a fifth time, to next year.

Checks on animal and food products coming to the UK from the EU have again been delayed, according to media reports.

The government has raised concern that the extra checks on imported goods would worsen inflation and push up prices.

Since January 2021, the UK food and farming industry has been told on several occasions that a system delivering border checks on food, with additional measures verifying the health and safety of meat products, would be delivered.

NFU Scotland said the latest delay would "anger and appal" the UK food and farming sector, as the government favoured a "cheap food policy" that encouraged "asymmetric trade".

The union's president, Martin Kennedy said: "Its lax approach to border controls continues to leave farmers exposed to the introduction of devastating animal and plant diseases such as African swine fever.

"It also leaves our food and drink exporters jumping through the hoops of a full border check to get our produce into the EU while those sending their goods here from Europe continue to do so at a competitive advantage.

"This continuing asymmetric trade devalues any claims lauding the Trade and Cooperation Agreement by the UK government," he warned.

Starting from 31 January 2024, imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk non-animal origin food (and feed) from the EU will require health certification.

By 30 April 2024, these items will undergo documentary, identity, and physical checks, while imports of sanitary and phytosanitary goods from other parts of the world will adopt a new risk-based approach.

From 31 October 2024, safety and security declarations for EU imports will become mandatory, along with a more streamlined dataset for imports.

But NFU Scotland warned that the "longer there is no effective system in place, the greater the distortion of the market for UK producers".

"We understand that the UK government will shortly set out the new timetable for the import regime, to finally deliver a level playing field for UK farming, food and drink sectors," Mr Kennedy said.

"Regrettably, there will be little confidence amongst industry that the timetable will be adhered to."