IMTA CEO labels Defra’s BTOM assumptions as ‘dangerous’

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

'We have significant concerns and are calling for an extension to the educational period well beyond April 30,' says IMTA boss. Getty/Studio1222
'We have significant concerns and are calling for an extension to the educational period well beyond April 30,' says IMTA boss. Getty/Studio1222

Related tags Regulation Trade

The International Meat Trade Association (IMTA) has expressed concerns that the UK won’t be ready for full vet checks when the ‘educational period’ ends later this month.

IMTA, alongside the wider industry, has been calling on Defra to fill in ‘crucial’ missing details on the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), so the sector can effectively prepare for full veterinary checks on imports from the EU.

Currently, the UK is in an ‘educational period’ which is due to conclude on 30 April 2024, when the next stage of BTOM goes live. And while Defra has said previously it is confident ports will have enough resources to deliver on the deadline, IMTA is unconvinced.

So far, the Central Hub has only been checking a very small number of certificates, which IMTA states is not providing the industry or the certifying vets in the EU with sufficient feedback to prepare for full import controls.

IMTA has written (last week) to BTOM Ministers in Defra and the Cabinet Office to request an extension to the educational period, alongside stressing the importance of Defra offering a 24-hour support system to industry when vet controls come in.

In the EFRA Select Committee last week Secretary of State Stephen Barclay said ‘a lot of the scare stories pertaining to January did not emerge’. However, IMTA claims that its members experiences have been ‘quite different’, with a lot of issues indeed emerging.

“I believe it is dangerous for Defra to assume that the educational approach since 31st January means April 30th will be a smooth transition,”​ contended IMTA CEO, Katie Doherty.

The trade body’s warning comes at the same time as the industry has expressed its disappointment on the outcome of the Common User Charge (CUC) published this week.

IMTA says that it ‘responded months ago’ to the Government’s CUC consultation and while some points raised have been reflected, it still brings ‘extremely unwelcome’ additional costs for the industry and UK consumers.

This, IMTA points out, is in addition to the charges that have already been incurred with the introduction of health certification.

The association believes the ultimate costs of BTOM have been substantially underestimated, raising doubts that additional administrative burden and the impact on operating hours for supply chain will have been accounted for.

Elsewhere, Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales, has said tightening supplies of beef on the global market is giving way to export opportunities for Welsh producers.

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