MPs launch inquiry into Brexit border delays for meat exports

Exports of seafood and meat products to the EU have been disrupted since the start of the new year
Exports of seafood and meat products to the EU have been disrupted since the start of the new year

MPs are launching an urgent inquiry into the disruption of UK meat exports to the EU since the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January.

Food export businesses of all sizes have reported losing money and trade due to an increase in bureaucratic border processes.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) recently warned that meat companies were seeing a 'serious and sustained loss of trade' with the EU.

The House of Commons EFRA Committee's inquiry aims to scrutinise the government's response and see how support can be increased for exporters.

Calling for a swift response, the Committee has written to Defra Secretary George Eustice asking him to set out the arrangements which will help firms access much-needed financial support quickly.

MPs who sit on the Committee are also asking for estimates of the cost to date to UK food businesses caused by border issues and delays.

The broader inquiry, which will now begin accepting evidence, will explore both long and short-term action plans for exports to the bloc, whilst also scrutinising the government's immediate response to disruptions.

The Committee will also look at the UK's preparedness for checking food imports from the EU later this year, and what lessons have been learnt from the last month.

Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Committee, said food export businesses had lost 'many tens of thousands of pounds' due to 'delays, disruption and red tape'.

"This needs to be gripped by the government at the highest level before businesses go to the wall," Mr Parish said.

"It's time for the government to get its act together and set out short, medium and long-term action plans for how it will support British food exporters.

"It is also clear that systems need to be streamlined, businesses supported, and mitigation plans made ahead of upcoming checks on food imports."

The EFRA Committee is seeking written evidence on the issue with an initial deadline for responses set for 19 February.