The decision by the UK government to delay by six months the introduction of new import controls has been described as a “boost for the agri-food sector”.

Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said the announcement today (Thursday, March 11) “provides major breathing space for Irish agri-food exporters who are preparing for the new requirements”.

“This six-month extension provides much-needed market stability over the coming months and will be welcomed by farmers and processors alike,” he added.

Before this extension was announced, the import controls were due to come into effect on April 1. These controls would have increased the regulatory burden on goods moving to the UK, including agri-food products.

The controls would have seen the need for a 10-fold increase in health certificates issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The controls will be introduced on October 1.

Cullinan also said that, at a meeting of the UK House of Commons’ Northern Ireland committee, which he addressed today, MPs recognised the high-quality of Irish food on the British market, particularly beef, and a need to maintain high standards on the UK market.

Cullinan told the MPs that the Northern Irish Protocol was “regarded as extremely important by Irish farmers in maintaining the free flow of live animals and agricultural products across the Ireland/Northern Ireland border”.

“It’s vitally important in maintaining the all-island economy in the agri-food sector, which is particularly integrated in the border counties across all farming sectors,” the IFA president said.