Northern Ireland

More vets needed to certify animals in a no-deal Brexit

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More vets will be needed to certify food and animals in a no-deal Brexit, a Northern Ireland veterinary surgeon has said.

There is expected to be a rise in the number of Export Health Certificates (EHC) which authorise cross-border movements of agri-food products.

Companies without the certificates required by the EU will not be able to sell their produce.

This will require more vets for the certification process.

The department responsible for agri-food cross border trade, the Executive Department, has said that not all exporters will be able to comply with new rules after Brexit.

It is estimated that up to 1.9 million certificates will be needed to accompany every consignment of locally produced food and other animal products bound for the EU.

Shortage of vets

Simon Doherty, president of the British Veterinary Association, said there is currently a huge issue around capacity.

"We are working very closely with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) to look at how we can actually rapidly increase the number of vets who are able to do certification, in the event of a complete no deal," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Business programme.

Mr Doherty said there was already a 10%-12% shortage of vets in Northern Ireland at present.

"What we have been looking at, which is acceptable under current European legislation, is the introduction of a certification support officer role," he said.

"There would be lay staff that would be able to work alongside an official veterinarian to help gather up the information.

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"Ultimately, the Export Health Certificate would still need to be signed by an official vet, who has the level of specialised training, but the certification support officer should go some way at helping to maintain some level of capacity across the certification process."

Inside Business is broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Sundays at 1330 BST and on Mondays at 1830 BST.

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