Pig-breeding companies may be forced to quit the UK unless Brexit negotiations successfully tackle issues surrounding exports, the National Pig Association (NPA) has warned.
More than 10,000 UK breeding animals have been exported to the continent so far this year, mostly via the short hop from Dover to Calais.
The exports underpin breeding company trade and help bolster profits for the wider UK pig sector. However, the NPA warned the trade may be shut down if there is no Brexit deal in place by 1 January 2021.
There could also be implications even if a deal is in place with the EU, it suggested.
Chief executive Zoe Davies explained that after 1 January, any live animal exported to the EU will have to pass through a border control post (BCP). These posts ensure the correct veterinary checks are made.
However, there are no registered BCPs at ports in France, the Netherlands or Belgium – the nearest is Spain.
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 am incredibly concerned about the future of live breeding pig exports if we don’t have a deal in place.
“If this trade is unable to continue, breeding companies may well be forced to leave the UK and relocate to more accessible countries,” Dr Davies said.
This 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,” she said.
Even if a deal is reached with the EU, animals may still have to go through BCPs.
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, therefore, in the process of working with all other affected sectors to contact the ports individually to seek a viable solution.