The Government is offering UK vets free export certification training as preparations for a 'no-deal' exit from the EU intensify.

The Official Control Qualification training will allow vets to certify animal products for export to the EU.

A statement issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) earlier this week made clear that leaving with a deal remained the Government’s top priority.

"However, a responsible government must plan for every eventuality, including a no-deal scenario," it read.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, but with agreements to allow exports of animal products to continue as a ‘listed third country’, there will be an increase in demand for official veterinary services to provide Export Health Certificates (EHCs).

This is because such products currently travel within the Single Market on commercial documents with no border controls. However, once outside of this market, exports to the EU will require consignment-specific certification and clearance at a Border Inspection Post.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed the plans. The association had been warning for months of the impact a no-deal exit would have on the veterinary sector.

Simon Doherty, BVA president, said: “It’s great to see that APHA is planning ahead and incentivising the uptake of export qualifications across the veterinary workforce.

"A no-deal Brexit could see the requirement for veterinary certification services spiralling, so it makes sense to prepare ahead to ensure that there is an adequate supply of suitably qualified vets to meet this demand in case no agreement is reached.

We’ve repeatedly raised concerns about the veterinary workforce’s capacity to meet increased demand for services including certification and health testing in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"We will continue to engage with the government to ensure that the potential impacts of this scenario on both the workforce and animal welfare are understood and factored into contingency planning.”