The expert in exports at Eville & Jones, Georgios Kakarantzas, has shared his hopes and fears of new rules which will affect thousands of British meat producers exporting to the European Union.
Georgios has worked in several roles at Eville & Jones over the last 20 years, most recently as Exports Technical Lead during a time of remarkable growth which has seen our company become the largest independent provider of veterinary controls in Europe.
He is responsible for overseeing national standards and legislative changes for export certification, including new rules from 13 December which will require non-assured livestock farmers to provide a declaration signed by a vet in order to export to the EU.
This will replace the previous system of farmer declarations, and aims to support sustainable agriculture and improve animal welfare and food safety.
However, Georgios has raised concerns that the practicalities of the new legislation could cause significant issues, as he also questioned whether the 13 December deadline from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be achievable.
“We at Eville & Jones, the biggest supplier of official controls and official certification services in UK, are fully aware of the importance of the regular veterinary visits on farms, but we have serious concerns with regards to the implementation of the new certification requirements,” he said.
“We are therefore urging DEFRA to continue discussions with all the stakeholders and if necessary, further extend the proposed deadline until a viable solution is found.”
Georgios, who started his career at Eville & Jones as an Official Veterinarian, warned that the new rules could have an impact on UK livestock prices and mean significant losses of revenue for farmers who choose not to export their animal products to the EU.
He explained: “The operation of a two-tier system – with export vs non export – poses a logistical nightmare, as a complete separation will be required at all stages from slaughter to despatch.
“More importantly, there are serious concerns with regards to the financial losses, as there is no way the domestic market can absorb all non-eligible export meat.
“From a veterinary perspective, the main issue is the lack of reliable and robust system for supplying the attestations to the Official Veterinarians in slaughterhouses and export sites.
“IT solutions systems in the form of a national data base have been proposed and might offer a solution to this problem, but there is nothing concrete yet.”
DEFRA originally aimed to introduce the new rules in December 2022, but this was pushed back after the industry raised concerns and asked for more time to prepare for change.
Under the new regulations, farmers will have to undergo regular animal health checks conducted by qualified vets who will carry out visual assessments, with no sampling or laboratory testing required.
Farmers who are already part of an approved farm assurance scheme – such as Red Tractor or Quality Meat Scotland – already meet this requirement and will therefore not need to provide additional declarations.