Live farm animal exports to mainland EU at a standstill post-Brexit

Livestock and reside shellfish exports from the UK to mainland Europe are at a standstill as producers battle with post-Brexit transport circumstances.

In 2019, excluding lamb and cattle traded between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a mixed 31,000 cattle, sheep and goats had been exported from the UK to the EU mainland. About 5% would have been exported for fattening for slaughter and the remaining for breeding, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) estimates.

National Pig Association (NPA) knowledge exhibits about 12,000 breeding pigs had been shipped from the UK to the EU in 2020. The UK doesn’t export pigs for slaughter, the NPA mentioned, though 1,000 to 2,000 pigs are despatched from Great Britain to Northern Ireland every year when additional slaughter capability is required.

Since 1 January, no cattle, sheep or goats have left the UK for mainland EU markets, the NFU and NPA mentioned.

“There have been no live exports of any [cattle, sheep or goats] since 1 January,” mentioned John Royle, the NFU’s chief livestock adviser. “That’s because there are no border control posts [BCPs] for them at EU mainland ports.” Royle put the worth of UK reside meals animal exports at between £20m and £30m in 2019.

Border management posts are the place reside animal paperwork and welfare is checked on arrival within the EU. Now that the UK is a third nation for EU commerce functions, BCP checks are required.

Sheep being transported in Essex. Photograph: Dylan Garcia Photography/Alamy

Breeding pigs face the identical downside. Up to 1 January, most UK breeding pig exports went from Dover to Calais on the P&O ferry, mentioned Zoe Davies, NPA chief govt.

Now, post-Brexit, Davies mentioned Calais would proceed to absorb UK horses, pets and chicks, “because they have a small BCP there that can cope with those. But they don’t feel its big enough to cope with pigs which come in groups of 200.”

“We flagged [the BCP issue] with Defra [the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] last year in June or July. But they basically said it was our problem,” Davies mentioned. Since then, the NPA and NFU have been working collectively on discovering EU ports prepared to arrange the management posts.

News of the reside export standstill comes within the midst of a UK authorities session aimed at banning the export of reside animals from England and Wales for slaughter and fattening. Areas outdoors the session’s remit embrace livestock for breeding, poultry and transport between England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

Royle added that the federal government session was having a further chilling impact. He mentioned it was “pretty clear” the UK authorities needed to finish the commerce for fattening and slaughter.

Live mollusc exports from the UK have been hit equally exhausting. “Up to 31 December there was a trade in live mussels and other live bivalves like oysters, cockles and clams that was worth £20m to £30m,” mentioned James Wilson, who farms mussels on the Menai Strait in north Wales, Britain’s largest mussel-growing space.

Since 1 January, bivalve exports have been suspended indefinitely, Wilson mentioned, owing to EU water high quality guidelines for third international locations that now apply to the UK.

Staff at Loch Fyne Seafarms, in Tarbert, Argyllshire, sort scallops, lobsters and lagoustines for shipping.
Staff at Loch Fyne Seafarms, in Argyll and Bute, type scallops, lobsters and langoustines for transport. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Alamy

In Scotland, exports of male calves, that are of little worth to dairy farmers, have additionally halted for a vary of causes unrelated to Brexit. The final cargo left in November 2019.

A Scottish authorities spokesperson mentioned the commerce had stopped due to a variety of components. Fewer male dairy calves had been being born, owing to the greater use of sexed semen, for instance, and extra male dairy calves had been being stored for rearing within the UK.

The Scottish government’s own consultation on proscribing the reside animal export commerce is due to conclude on 26 February.

Responding to issues in regards to the collapse of reside farm animal exports, Defra said in an e mail that since 1 January consignments of cattle and equines have in actual fact been exported to the EU. Although the variety of livestock exported was not given, Defra mentioned the animals went from the UK to the Irish port of Rosslare, which has a BCP.

But Royle mentioned that reside export of farm animals to mainland Europe had “effectively been stopped because of Brexit, and can only resume if we establish BCPs on the EU mainland”.

Animal welfare may be severely compromised by live transportation, and the longer the journey the larger the dangers. Compassion in World Farming’s chief coverage adviser, Peter Stevenson, mentioned he was “delighted” that the “inhumane” reside export commerce had “at least for now largely come to a halt”.

There haven’t, as but, been any reported disruptions to the commerce in day-old chicks, exported from Dover to Calais for breeding, a spokesperson for the British Poultry Council mentioned. The UK exports tens of millions of chicks a year in an trade that was price £139m in 2018.

Asked about reside bivalve exports, Defra mentioned it was in session with producers and the EU to make sure the commerce may “continue securely”.

Defra added that molluscs corresponding to oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops may proceed to be exported to the EU in the event that they had been harvested from class A waters. Wilson mentioned lower than 1.5% of English and Welsh waters had been at the moment labeled as class A for reside molluscs.

Earlier this week, Defra confirmed it was putting in a £23m compensation package for firms exporting fish and shellfish to the EU that may present they’ve suffered “genuine loss”.

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