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Brexit could result in 325% increase for vet certifications
Published:  23 October, 2017

As a consequence of the UK potentially being treated as a ‘third country’ post-EU, the demand for veterinary certifications could rise threefold.

As a result, new trade agreements for meat and agricultural products, including gelatine and hay, will require more vets in the role.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) highlighted that, upon leaving the Union, the UK may not be able to enjoy the same trading freedom as member states and may therefore be regarded as a ‘third country’. Subsequently, imports and exports of animals and by-products will need new veterinary certifications, which will need to be developed and supervised.

Nigel Gibbens, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, estimated that certifications could increase by as much as 325%.

“Vets are absolutely vital to facilitating UK trade by ensuring standards, so that consumers at home and abroad have confidence in the food safety and welfare of the products they choose to buy,” said BVA senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz.

“Veterinary certification is required not only for meat, but a whole range of products such as gelatine in sweets.”

Veterinary surgeons who are employed by respective governments work as official controllers in establishments to safeguard animal welfare, food hygiene and safety, and public health. For every animal or animal product that is imported or exported, trained Official Veterinarians certify and supervise this process to ensure a smooth trade.

According to the BVA, there are currently 1,063 Official Veterinarians authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency to monitor food products for export to third countries from Great Britain. However, this number will be required to increase to meet the rise in certification that could happen upon exiting the EU.

‘Serious problems’

“Ironically, it is non-British EU vets who make up around 50% of our new workforce each year,” added Ravetz. “However, since the EU referendum, we are facing serious problems in recruiting and retaining EU vets, which makes the need for more vets to perform this crucial trade-task an even more pressing concern. Vets’ role in the future of UK trade must be recognised and planned for, as an integral part of forthcoming trade negotiations.”

In response to the necessary increase, the BVA is calling on the government to undertake a timely review of third-country certification, ensuring Britain has the capacity to fulfil new trade agreements. The BVA is also demanding that non-British EU vets and veterinary nurses working in the UK have their rights to remain protected.

Furthermore, access to veterinary medicines could also be restricted. To overcome this, the association is requiring that a new trade deal with the EU maintains links with EU veterinary medicine approval systems.