Veterinary deal ‘could ease NI food import issues’

Veterinary deal ‘could ease NI food import issues’

Many of the problems faced when it comes to sending food and agri products to Northern Ireland from Great Britain could be removed with a better EU-UK veterinary agreement ,it has been claimed.

As Boris Johnson’s Government looks to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol,  British Poultry Council chief Richard Griffiths said: “From the meat industry perspective two things really matter: ease of movement of products from GB to NI, and maintaining regulatory alignment, in practice if not in name, with the EU.”

National Beef Association chief executive Neil Shand said a veterinary deal would “solve a lot of the issues around movement of live animals from GB to NI” but moves towards overriding the protocol  have been met with the threat of  legal action from the EU over what it deemed the UK unilaterally reneging on treaty commitments.

Alongside the protocol bill, the government has suggested a solution that involves possible “green” and “red” channels for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain and destined for either the local or EU markets respectively.

However food businesses weighing up any possible legislative change are still seeking more clarity on the proposals.

“What they [the government] announced is enabling legislation that doesn’t spell out what would be in place,” said Andrew Kuyk, director general of the Provision Trade Federation.

His warning came just days after the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) warned half of veterinary products used here could be ‘lost overnight’ if changes are not made to the protocol to ensure medicines remain freely available.

Both groups say that the issue is not about the politics around the NI protocol, but the pursuit of practical solutions to ensure livestock productivity and animal welfare do not suffer.