The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the government has failed to hire enough vets to process exports from the UK and there are fears that this means food and livestock could be delayed at UK borders after Brexit.
Defra is responsible for 55 of the 319 EU-related work streams across government, covering chemical and agri-food industries, agriculture, fisheries and the environment.
Kath Dalmeny, CEO of Sustain said: “It’s alarming to learn that Defra will not be ready in time for a no deal Brexit. For some time we have been warning about how huge reductions in staffing and resources in our food safety agencies have left them ill-equipped to deal with the fresh challenges of Brexit.
“Farmers will be dismayed that their produce could rot by the roadside while they wait for a vet to clear their export certificate. But also, if there are not enough vets to inspect exports, then who will check the imports? Regulation has been a dirty word of late, condemned as ‘red tape’ that holds the industry back, but when it comes to food safety, we need strong rules and effective, timely inspections.”
The National Audit Office specifically flagged the following areas as major concerns:
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