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Time running out on veterinary declarations

The need to sort out the UK’s requirement to apply new veterinary declarations to meat exports destined for EU customers must be given top priority by government.

New rules were meant to be introduced last year but were delayed for 12 months as government wasn’t ready.  The new rules still haven’t been communicated to the industry and time is now quickly counting down.

From December 13, 2023, all farms selling livestock for slaughter must have have had an annual farm veterinary visit to allow their animals, and/or part of any animal, to be exported out of the UK to the EU.  The previous self-certification rules, which involved a farmer declaration, will be replaced by this new procedure.

Farmers who are part of an approved farm assurance scheme, such as Quality Meat Scotland, already meet the requirement for a veterinary visit.  Their participation in the scheme is noted as part of the food chain information so no additional veterinary declaration is required for them.

There have been many meetings and discussions held on this issue but little clarity forthcoming.  There is speculation and well-informed opinion on how the new rules will be interpreted but until guidance is issued by government that is all it is, speculation and informed opinion.  Industry needs to know what Official Veterinarians in meat plants must have in order to sign the necessary export health certificates.  While the main problem is going to be with cattle from farms that are non-assured until the guidance is issued, and grey areas removed, we can’t be confident that there won’t be some disruption.

This is all totally unnecessary and something of an insult to farmers and processors who are working hard to maintain exports in the face of an extremely challenging economic climate.  The guidance being produced by government needs to be shared with all in the supply chain so everyone knows what they need to do, and everyone can work together to sort out the grey areas.  We need to ensure that Official Veterinarians have what they need in order to sign export health certificates.  Any delay in the signing of these documents doesn’t just affect a meat plant but everyone in the meat supply chain.