Food business operators have been urged to prepare for the UK’s introduction of import controls on certain food and agricultural goods, as a result of Brexit, from October 1.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Heydon addressed a meeting of the Consultative Committee of Stakeholders on Brexit earlier today (Thursday, September 2).

At the meeting, the minister acknowledged the acute nature of the difficulties that lie ahead.

“Brexit has already brought a seismic shift in how we trade with the UK, and further changes are coming,” Minister Heydon said.

“The UK will introduce new checks on certain food and agricultural products from October 1. Businesses exporting these types of products to the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, face changes, including pre-notification and new health certificate requirements.”

The minister stressed the importance of exporters fully understanding the new requirements.

He added that it was crucial that exporters ensure that everyone in the supply chain, from their UK customers to their logistics providers, “are clear on their roles and responsibilities, and can meet them”.

Commenting on the resilience of the agri-food sector, Minister Heydon said:

“Given the volume and value of trade in both directions and the integrated nature of agri-food supply chains, the UK choice to leave the single market and customs union has had a profound impact on the trading environment and has meant unavoidable new burdens on companies, including through the additional checks and controls now in place.

“It is now over eight months since the end of the transition period, and we see evidence of businesses adapting to the permanent changes brought about by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The government is committed to continuing to support the sector in adapting to these new trading arrangements, and in preparing for the further Brexit-related change and disruptions coming later this year and in 2022”.

Minister Heydon added: “Extensive preparations continue across Government and the wider agri-food and fisheries sectors.

“We are continuing to engage with stakeholders and businesses in the run up to October 1, as part of our comprehensive trader engagement programme.

“To further assist businesses in adapting to the post-Brexit trading environment, my Department will hold a joint webinar with DEFRA [The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] UK next Thursday [September 9], which will provide further information for agri-food traders and those moving Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods from Ireland to Great Britain.”

The committee also heard updates from the Department of Foreign Affairs in relation to the operation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

However, no new procedures apply to goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland because of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine says.