The Countryside Alliance, along with its partner organisations of Aim to Sustain, is hoping that a change in trade regulations between the European Union (EU) and non-EU countries will reduce delays to the import of gamebirds.
The change will see the surveillance period and restriction of exporting poultry products, including eggs, chicks and live birds, out of the EU following a confirmed case of avian influenza, reduced from 90 days to a minimum of 30 days.
The European Commission has published a Delegated Act which changes the duration of the surveillance period, and this is due to come into force on 6 February 2023. Defra has also received Ministerial clearance to implement a reciprocal arrangement. The precise date for the relevant changes to be fully enacted in the UK will be publicised once confirmed. The new trade rule between the EU and non-EU countries will now align with the trade agreement within the EU bloc.
Dominic Boulton, of the Game Farmers’ Association, said: “The 90-day surveillance period exacerbated gamebird supply chain issues last summer. By cutting the time frame by up to two-thirds it is that hoped trade can be freed up at no greater risk of spreading the disease.
“While there remain several unanswered questions regarding the changes, the news should provide gamekeepers and shoot owners with a degree of clarity when they are making decisions on sourcing gamebirds for next season.
“With the risk of further outbreaks of avian influenza remaining high, it is important to acknowledge that this change will not be a so-called ‘silver bullet’ for the sector. The 30-day period remains a minimum period of time, and in most cases the required disease control and surveillance activity will take longer, which has the potential to disrupt plans”.
This decisive action both by EU and UK parties in response to the concerns of the gamebird and wider poultry sector has provided reassurance that everything possible is being done to ensure smooth trade between countries.