Import changes – second phase begins

Cargo ship

From 30 April, physical and identity checks will apply to medium and high-risk animal products, plants and plant products entering the UK from the EU.

The new controls mark the second phase of the UK’s BTOM (Border Target Operating Model) which sets out a new risk-based approach to import checks on goods entering the UK from overseas.

Following delays of over three years and “numerous setbacks”, NFU President Tom Bradshaw welcomed the new controls “as a way of safeguarding the nation’s food safety”, adding that it is “critical we see a smooth implementation of the checks and minimum disruption to our just-in-time supply chains”.

He said: “British farmers and growers need controls on all imports, not just those from the EU, to be effective, bio-secure and efficient. That looks different for the individual sectors in agriculture dependent on business need.

“We will work closely with horticulture growers to ensure a shift of controls away from their businesses doesn’t jeopardise the biosecurity of their plant products and listen to the authorities on the front line of our borders about resources, to ensure that our livestock producers have full confidence that the checks stamp out fraud and illegal activity where that exists.”

What is changing?

  • Documentary checks and physical and identity checks at the border have been introduced for medium and high-risk animal products, plant and plant products imported to Great Britain from the EU.
  • Checks are due to be phased in between 1-30% and take place at either a BCP (Border Control Post) or CP (Control Post).
  • High-risk plants and plant products from the EU must come through a BCP or CP where identity and physical checks will be carried out.
  • Checks will no longer take place at PoDs (Points of Destination).
  • The removal of health certification and routine checks on low-risk animal products, plants, plant products from the rest of the world as well as reduction in physical and identity check levels on medium-risk Rest of World animal products.

British farmers and growers need controls on all imports, not just those from the EU, to be effective, bio-secure and efficient.”

NFU President Tom Bradshaw

Zero-tolerance to illegal meat imports

The NFU takes a zero-tolerance approach to illegal meat imports and insists that the system must be robust enough to identify non compliers at the border, ensuring that goods are not smuggled, or food fraud doesn’t rise as a result of the new approach.

We call on the government to ensure the policy is monitored closely and remedial action taken to address any weaknesses or ‘loopholes’ identified as quickly as possible.

The UK exports over £9 billion worth of animal and plant products each year which rely on the UK’s biological security reputation, so it is imperative we maintain capacity and capabilities to ensure that imports do not pose a threat to the UK’s biosecurity.

Next steps

From 31 October, we will see the introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU entering via West Coast GB ports.

The government has published a series of guidelines and webinars on adapting to the changes:

Any urgent BTOM/import queries for plants and plant products across England and Wales should be directed to the APHA (Animal & Plant Health Agency), by email, in the first instance: [email protected].    

Alternatively, you can contact them by telephone: 03000 200 301. 

Any urgent BTOM/import queries for animal products should be directed to the PHA (Port Health Authority) at your nominated BCP (Border Control Post).

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