The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has described the UK Government’s decision to allow imports from the EU to circumvent checks until the autumn as a blow for many UK producers, and an own goal in terms of the UK’s negotiating position over improvements that would help UK exporters.
While thorough checks have been in place for UK food exports to the EU since 1st January 2021, equivalent checks on food products imported from the EU were due to be introduced from 1st April following a transition period to allow importers to adjust to the UK’s departure from the EU Single Market.
However, the UK Government announced on 11th March that pre-notification requirements for products of animal origin, certain animal by-products and high risk food not of animal origin would not be required until 1st October 2021. Export health certificate requirements for meat and dairy products and certain animal by-products will come into force on the same date, while a range of other requirements have been delayed until 2022.
UK borders are currently operating like valves that make it extremely difficult and costly for exports to the EU due to the paperwork and bureaucracy at EU borders, yet it’s extremely easy for those in the EU to import into the UK because the UK Government has waived the need for equivalent checks at our own borders.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) President Glyn Roberts and staff attended a roundtable meeting with The Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 18th March 2021.
During the meeting, the FUW stressed the need for clarity on funding for Welsh agriculture. The Welsh Government is still unable to assign an amount to agricultural funding from 2023 onwards, creating uncertainty around the continuity of BPS payments and the new Sustainable Farming Scheme, in addition to the £137 million cut that Wales saw to its agricultural funding for the next financial year.
Indeed, the UK Government committed in its manifesto to fully replace the funding that Wales previously received from the EU to support farming by promising ‘not a penny less’. The industry needs reassurances about the budget and when a multi-year settlement will be provided as opposed to a one-year budget.