Border operating model must deliver level playing field – NFU

As the government announces its new border operating model for Great Britain, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has urged both the UK and EU to work together to agree long-term arrangements as a matter of priority so trade can flow as smoothly as possible while new border infrastructure and systems are put in place.

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NFU president Minette Batters said: “Since January 1, the UK’s agri-food sector has been struggling with the additional costs and burdens that moving goods to the EU now entails.

It is therefore frustrating that our government is not taking a similar approach to the treatment of imports coming into Great Britain from the EU.

“Our exporters face additional costs and run the risk of financial losses if products are turned back or held up at the border, yet this announcement means that EU producers will maintain access to the UK market relatively burden-free for a considerable amount of time.

“It is crucial that we achieve a level playing field with pragmatic checks on imports and exports as quickly as possible.

“However, we also recognise that for certain food products this extension is a necessary step to ensure supermarket shelves remain well stocked.

“For example, there are some fruit and vegetables that can’t be grown in the UK or that won’t be in season or widely available.”

Live animal imports

Batters continued: “Live animal imports for breeding will not require checks at Border Control Posts until March next year, which is a pragmatic solution while there are still no UK facilities able to host them at the border.

“We will continue our discussions with ports in both the UK and EU that would be able to suitably support this trade to try to ensure it can continue.

“There remains a lot of outstanding issues that we want the UK and the EU to resolve as part of ongoing relationship discussions.

More needs to be done to address the burdens on exporters to the EU, including the digitalisation of outdated paperwork requirements for health and organic certificates, and streamlining physical and administrative checks at the border.

“We also need the continued ban on exports of UK seed potatoes to be urgently addressed.

“In the meantime, while the ban remains in place, our government must set out how it will support the British growers affected,” she concluded.