FARMING leaders have slammed the fifth delay to the introduction of border controls for imported foodstuffs.

NFU president Minette Batters described the delay as ‘hugely frustrating’ for producers, while the British Poultry Council’s Richard Griffiths said domestic poultry production would continue to be undercut.

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Since the UK left the EU three years ago, British exporters have been subject to full sanitary and phytosanitary checks on produce exported to Europe.

But produce flowing the other way – into the UK from Europe – has not been subject to the same red tape.

The NFU and others argue that this has damaged UK farmers’ competitiveness.

EU controls

NFU President Minette Batters said: “For the past three years, our farmers have faced the full reach of EU controls on our exports while the EU has enjoyed continued easy access to the UK marketplace.

The introduction of post-Brexit border checks on food and fresh produce will commence from 31 January 2024, three months later than initially expected.

Mr Griffiths added the delay “only continues to hinder investment and inhibit growth for domestic poultry producers, adding to the cost of production and amplifying pressure on the food inflation challenge”.

Industry cost

He added: “Concerns that importers and other businesses have expressed are what BPC members have endured since 1 January 2021.

“Additional administration, like Official Veterinary-signed export health certificates, have cost industry £55 million a year since leaving the single market.

“EU exporters, on the other hand, have paid £0 in certification costs. Delaying the implementation of food import controls for the fifth time in two years means the EU continues to enjoy a competitive advantage.”