A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the government was monitoring plans to introduce the remaining import controls after Brexit in July. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) warns that delaying checks could have serious consequences for the country’s biosecurity.
The government is mulling another delay due to growing concern that the checks will add to the growing cost of living crisis. According to some estimates, the checks will add £1billion to the costs of cross-Channel trade.
But BVA senior vice-chairman James Russell has stressed the importance of checks on live animals and animal products with Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
He said: “If this extension is allowed, it will be the fourth delay and will further open the door to the potential incursion of African swine fever, which is spreading rapidly and has already had a catastrophic impact on animal health and livestock. ‘Agriculture. industry in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
“Official veterinarians working at the border act as the nation’s first line of biosecurity defense, and we believe it would be deeply wrong to push the need for these vital checks even further and, in doing so, weaken this layer of protection for animals and public health.”
Mr Russell said the BVA had also argued that the veterinary profession needed certainty and a clear timetable to work on instead of “even more shifting deadlines”.
He said: “Given the ongoing workforce capacity challenges, it is really important that we can prepare and allocate resources where they are most needed.”
In February, data released by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) showed the annual number of vets coming to work in the UK fell by 68%, from 1,132 in 2019 to just 364 in 2021.
The BVA attributed the decline in part to the end of free movement and the impact of the pandemic.
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He warned that the shortage could have direct repercussions on international trade and public health.
Separate statistics have shown how demand for veterinary certification of animal products for export to the EU has skyrocketed in the face of new post-Brexit requirements.
Data from the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency last month suggested that applications for food-related export health certificates increased by 1,255% between 2020 (22,990) and the end of 2021 (288,558).
According to the BVA, the UK’s veterinary workforce is “heavily dependent” on EU registrants, with RCVS data from 2021 showing that 29% of the total existing workforce graduated in the European Union.
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Mr Russell said last month: “The fall in the number of registrants in the EU since Brexit, coupled with the growing demand for veterinary certification, is creating a storm of shortages in the profession.
“It is absolutely essential that veterinarians receive as much support as possible to master workloads and meet the ongoing challenges ahead.
“The potential consequences are worrying. If we cannot find long-term solutions to veterinary labor shortages, we will see impacts on animal welfare, public health and international trade.”
African swine fever itself has caused “massive” losses in pig populations and “dramatic” economic consequences, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has said.
He says the viral disease has become a major crisis for the pork industry, affecting several regions of the world.
There is no effective vaccine against African swine fever which, according to the OIE, not only affects animal health and welfare, but also has “adverse” effects on biodiversity and the livelihoods of animals. farmers.
It is not a danger to human health, but can be spread by people.
African swine fever was first reported in the European Union in 2014 and many EU countries have been affected since. Belgium and the Czech Republic have successfully eradicated the disease after recent outbreaks.
Since 2005, the disease has been reported in 32 African countries. It was confirmed in the Caucasus region of Georgia in 2007 from where it spread to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Belarus.
African swine fever has been detected in five different regions of the world since January 2020, affecting more than 1,000,000 pigs and more than 28,000 wild boar with more than 1,500,000 animal losses, according to the OIE.
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This notice was published: 2022-03-31 08:18:00