The pig sector needs urgent clarity from the government on how the trade in breeding pigs and pork products will function after the Brexit transition period ends, an industry body has warned.
The National Pig Association (NPA) said it is still seeking answers “to a long list of critical questions” ahead of the 31 December deadline.
This includes concerns about a lack of border control posts at EU seaports – which will be needed to check live animal exports after 1 January – and delays at ports that would jeopardise fresh meat exports after the government said it would only prioritise fresh and live seafood products.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said there was still a lack of understanding across government about the severity of the situation.
“As things stand, on top of the growing disruption caused by Covid-19, the UK pig sector faces the very real prospects of being unable to continue the vitally important trade in breeding stock to the EU and of severe delays, added costs and reduced market access for our pork exports. The impact could be devastating,” said Dr Davies.
The NPA said it is also concerned about a possible lack of vets and resources to carry out the additional checks that will be required for live animals and meat exports.
The industry body called for clarity on the new requirements and authorisations needed for hauliers transporting breeding pigs, and the requirements for movements of pork products and live pigs between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Dr Davies added: “We will continue to strive to get solutions, but we need better engagement and answers from across government – and fast.
“Our message is that we are facing a very real threat to the viability of the UK pig sector and we must do all we can, collectively, to avoid serious disruption.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “Intensive planning is under way to help ensure that businesses and citizens are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that leaving the single market will bring.
“We are working closely with vets and food producers – including those in the pork industry – to ensure they are ready for the UK’s new chapter.
“This includes establishing a new online application service for export health certificates, and launching a £300,000 training fund for vets and local authority officials to prepare for the end of the transition period.”
Additional funding has also been allocated by Defra to provide more vets as short-term support for the certification of exports if there are shortages at ports.