British vets have warned that delaying import checks on animals and animal products entering the UK could have serious implications for animal health and British agriculture, including opening up a threat of the incursion of diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF).
The UK's largest veterinary body, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has voiced strong criticism over the UK government's decision to scrap the planned introduction of import checks on July 1.
These checks have already been pushed back three times, the BVA has said, which "flies in the face of common sense".
In a written ministerial statement issued today (Thursday, April 28), Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that no further import controls on EU goods will be introduced this year.
The government will, instead, develop a “new regime of import controls”, with a target introduction date by the end of 2023.
The BVA has repeatedly warned that delaying such checks could have serious implications for animal health and agriculture, and open up a threat of the incursion of diseases such as African Swine Fever.
BVA senior vice-president, James Russell, has said that such a move not only flies in the face of common sense, but also of the government's commitment to preserving high levels of animal and human health in the UK.
“Diseases such as African Swine Fever have already had a catastrophic impact on agriculture and animal health in parts of Europe and elsewhere, globally.
"With the UK now being outside the EU’s integrated and highly responsive surveillance systems, we have repeatedly warned that delaying veterinary checks further could weaken vital lines of defence against future incursions.
"To remove the requirement for checks entirely appears deeply misguided; we urge the government to abandon these plans and close off the threat of causing significant damage to our food and farming industries.
If not, the government must urgently set out how it will safeguard animal health and welfare in the UK in the coming months.”