£5bn no-deal meat exports status secured

EU member states have agreed the UK’s listed status to export live animals and animal products as a third country can continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed confirmed the acceptance of the UK’s listed status on Friday (11 October) after it met the health and biosecurity assurances required for a third country.

With listed status now confirmed, businesses exporting animals and animal products to the EU – business worth more than £5bn a year – will still need to meet new requirements, such as going through the correct EU border inspection post.

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The deal ensures that live animals and products of animal origin, such as meat, fish and dairy, will continue if Britain leaves the EU on 31 October.

Defra secretary Theresa Villiers said: “This is good news for UK businesses. It demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain and improve after we leave the EU.

“If you or your business import or export animal and animal products, we want to make sure you are ready for Brexit. Our guidance sets out what you need to do to continue to trade after we leave the EU.”

However, Mrs Villiers said the UK government’s top priority remains delivering Brexit by the end of October, and the preference is to strike a negotiated deal with the EU.

Live exports future

On 2 October, prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK could ban live exports of animals after Brexit.

He told parliament: “I think it is very relevant to the concerns of this country that we will for the first time be able to ban the export of live animals which has offended people in this country for so long.”

But meat trade bodies and farming industry representatives have expressed serious concern about a ban on live exports, which is worth about £600,000 to the UK farming industry each year.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has previously warned that banning the live export of farm animals would be “completely unworkable” for the Northern Ireland farming industry.

Up to 50% of Northern Irish lambs are exported to the Republic of Ireland and a large majority of Northern Irish sows are slaughtered in Great Britain.

Guidance for animal importers and exporters is available on GOV.UK.

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