Post-Brexit border checks on food imports that were due to be implemented on 1 July will be delayed for a fourth time, the government has announced.
Brexit Benefits Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has stated that to implement checks on goods from the EU now would cost importers £1 billion a year and potentially add to the rising cost of living.
Failing to implement border checks has serious consequences
In ‘taking back control of our borders’, we have not only created a smugglers paradise but, vets warn, it could potentially allow dangerous animal and plant diseases to enter the country unchecked.
One disease of concern is African Swine Fever (ASF). It is one of the most feared in the pig industry and is highly contagious. In 2018 it swept through the Chinese herd, the largest on the planet, wiping out 50 percent of the country’s pigs. A second wave in 2021 took out 20-25 percent again, just as the numbers were starting to recover.
In 2019 SME pork processors, buying specific cuts from wholesalers, had their pork supplies rationed. The major UK retailers and processors, who contract with the farmers for the complete carcass, were not affected, so it did not impact the consumer. But the export market for UK pork boomed as the Chinese buyers moved in and small processors, including many across East Anglia, had restrictions placed on supplies and operations.
Swine fever threat
African Swine Fever is in Europe and has been spreading across the continent via wild boar. The latest UK Government report from 9 May identifies cases across Eastern Europe, into Germany and now as far south as Italy.
Senior vice-president of the British Veterinary Association James Russell has said the government’s move “flies in the face” of our commitment to preserve high levels of animal and human health.
In 2021 the industry estimated the UK pig herd to total 5.28 million head, The highest density is located in Yorkshire and Humber with the East of England, including East Anglia, in second place. If ASF crosses the channel through unchecked imports, it could wipe out the UK pig industry.
We could be waving good-bye to British jobs, the traditional British Banger and the Bacon Butty.