Pig industry leaders have warned of the “catastrophic consequences” of a no-deal Brexit which could see exports to the EU blocked but imports continuing to flood in to the country.
The UK pigmeat sector is underpinned by export trade, with more than 110,000 tonnes – 60% of all exports – exported to the EU in the first seven months of this year.
However the latest set of Defra technical papers on a no-deal point out that order to export to the EU, Export Health Certificates would be required from the end of March 2019, with consignments needing to travel through a Border Inspection Post within the EU.
It is expected that listing the UK as a third country could take at least six months, and without this status no exports to the EU could take place.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies warned this scenario could be the worst of all worlds for the UK pig industry.
She said: “If exports are blocked but we continue importing pigmeat from the EU in large quantities, as the government appears willing to do, it would blow a huge hole through the economics of the UK pig sector.
“Because of carcass balance issues, the UK would be swamped with pigmeat that had little value on the domestic market, dragging down the pig price and making it very difficult for many pig businesses to continue operating.”
Dr Davies called on the government to do everything in its power to secure frictionless trade after Brexit.
NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker said Defra’s document also made it clear it would be difficult to export live animals after Brexit.
“It offers no real answers about what would happen to movements of pork products and live pigs across the Irish border. This could cause huge problems on both sides of the border,” he said.
“The government’s approach to imports is also a concern.”