Plant health services: follow up consultation

14 December 2021

Plants in pots on racks

In May 2021, the GB Plant Health Services launched a consultation for opinions on a risk-targeted approach for setting the frequency of import checks. The NFU has called for a risk-based import inspection regime for plants and plant products. Read on to find out more.

A follow up consultation on the frequency of checks for plants imported into Great Britain is now open. It will close on 28th January 2022.

The consultation, launched on 3 December 2021, is focused on a revised method to determine the levels of identity checks and physical inspection on regulated plant health goods imported into GB.

Risk-based approach

The NFU has long been calling for a more risk based assessment on inspections, rather than the blanket 100% inspection frequency currently in place. The consultation has made some amendments but most plants continue to remain at 100%.

The amendments Defra have made, are against two categories:

  1. Cuttings, seedlings (except forestry reproductive material), young plants of strawberries or of vegetables, not intended for final users
  2. 'Woody Plants' would no longer be subject to lower checks if they are intended for final users.

All other plants for planting frequency checks, largely remain the same. 

What we’d like members to do;

  1. Review the proposed frequency of checks, and raise any concerns you may have to [email protected]
  2. Submit your own written views (as free text) to the consultation email address provided
  3. The NFU will be submitting a response on members behalf and would like to hear from growers. We are disappointed Defra have not listened to our original submitted concerns.

Our work so far

The NFU have long called for a risk-based import inspection regime for plants and plant products, based on data, science and the probability of a pest or disease being found.

We raised a number of concerns to the initial consultation in August 2021, regarding the method of risk-based approach currently taken, including but not limited to;

The risk-based inspection regime for plants for planting, which are currently subjected to 100% inspections, fails to recognise the controls and expertise commercial businesses have in place to prevent, identify, and remove any pest or disease risks.

These controls are not necessarily replicated for plants intended for the final user; therefore, the risk of a pest or disease outbreak could be greater than a commercial business

We called for data to be used to show inspection and interception rates to determine inspection frequency, particularly when reducing inspection rates based on a history of good compliance and low risk.

Increased risks of importing pests

There are significantly higher costs associated to 100% inspections compared to 10% inspections, and could encourage businesses to import young plants and fresh produce direct for sale, as opposed to sourcing British grown goods, increasing the risk of importing a pest or disease into the UK and impacting our domestic markets competitiveness at the same time.

Much of these concerns remain true, and the NFU will continue to raise these concerns within this follow up consultation on behalf of members. If you’d like to share your views with the NFU, to form part of its response, please email [email protected].

Read our full response in our NFU plant import inspections methodology consultation briefing below.

Submit your views

Submit your views on the Defra website's Follow-up Consultation: Method for Determining the Frequency of Risk Targeted Plant Health Import Inspections page.

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