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The poultry sector is being encouraged to join a Defra/industry partnership dedicated to securing overseas market access for UK meat and livestock producers.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has asked the British Poultry Council to join the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), which already contains Quality Meat Scotland, the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland and Hybu Cig Cymru in Wales.

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The partnership, which was launched in 2008, liaises with the UK livestock and livestock products industries to establish export market priorities. It also assists in the drafting of export health certificates.

It works closely with a number of industry bodies, including the Food Standards Agency, British Pig Association and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Peter Hardwick, AHDB head of trade development, said discussions had been taking place with the BPC regarding joining UKECP, but there had been no deal as yet.

Maire Burnett, BPC agricultural policy manager, said the BPC already played a key role within the Poultry Export Certificate Users Group, which was not too dissimilar from UKECP.

“The poultry group is more of a technical working group, but is able to negotiate health certificates and, apart from having a vet travelling abroad, it does pretty much what UKECP does.

“At present, we are quite content with the Export Certificate Users Group and are also working well with Defra,” she added.