The farming sector and preparing for EU Exit

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a Brexit deal, there may be changes that affect your arable, livestock or horticulture farming business.

Farm and rural payments: EU funding

In 2019, EU funding for rural payment schemes including the Basic Payment Scheme will continue, regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal deal.

To get payments, you’ll need to follow the same standards as you do now. Where relevant, this will include on-site inspections to UK farms. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will continue to administer the schemes.

Importing and exporting

There are some actions you’ll need to take if you import or export products between the UK and EU.

Preparing for disruption to trade at the UK-EU border

To minimise disruption to your business at border points you should take the following steps:

  1. Get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number so you can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisations.
  2. Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.
  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out what information they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself.

If you do not import and export products directly check that any agent or business you use is prepared.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal.

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.

Arable and horticulture: plants and plant products

After the UK leaves the EU, plants and plant products (for example, vegetables, seeds and fruit) currently managed under the EU plant passport scheme will be subject to UK import controls. There is a new process you must follow.

If you import regulated plants and plant products from non-EU (third) countries via the EU without plant health checks by an EU member state:

For exports of controlled plants and plant products to the EU, third-country rules will apply on all:

Read the guidance on importing and exporting plants and plant products if there’s no withdrawal deal and plant health controls.

Seed exports

You’ll need to list the seed variety you’re exporting on the EU Common Catalogue via a member state.

Livestock or animal products

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the way you notify the UK authorities of these imports will change.

You’ll no longer be able to use the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) to notify the UK authorities about an import. There will be a new system to replace this, launching in March 2019.

If you import live animals or animal products, fish, shellfish or fish products from non-EU (third) countries directly or transiting through the EU, your consignment will need to be checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).

If you import high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from non-EU (third) countries, whether directly or transiting through the EU, it will need to enter the UK via a Designated Point of Entry (DPE).

Read the guidance on importing high-risk food and feed not of animal originand importing and exporting live animals and animal products.

If you export animals, animal products, fish, shellfish, crustaceans or fish products from the UK to the EU, you’ll need to follow a new process:

  1. You must complete an Export Health Certificates (EHC). EHCs must be signed by an authorised signatory (for example, an official veterinarian) following the consignments inspection.
  2. You’ll also need a catch certificate for most exports of fish or fish products.
  3. The consignment must enter the EU via a Border Inspection Post (BIP)within the EU. You’ll need to consider if your current trade routes could be affected. There is not currently a BIP at Calais, although French authorities expect these to be operational by the end of March 2019. See a list of EU BIPs.
  4. Contact your import agent to ensure that your export is pre-notified on TRACES and EU customs requirements are met (for example, completing customs declarations and paying tariffs).

For more information, see importing and exporting live animals and animal products.

Organic imports and exports

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you must register on the interim, paper-based system to replace TRACES NT, launching in March 2019.

Unless the EU gives the UK official recognition for our organic standards (known as ‘equivalency’), you cannot export UK organic products to the EU.

Find out more about trading and labelling organic food if there’s no Brexit deal.

Your employees

There are certain schemes and processes you should be aware of if you employ people.

Employing EU workers

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU citizens who are resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status, which will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.

The scheme will be open to applications from 30 March 2019 and EU workers must apply by 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You can use the EU Settlement Scheme guidance for employers to give further information to your employees.

Employing seasonal workers

You’ll still be able to employ seasonal workers from the EU. European Temporary Leave to Remain will allow EEA citizens arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) to live, work and study in the UK if there’s no Brexit deal.

EEA citizens who are granted European Temporary Leave to Remain will be able to stay in the UK for 36 months from the date of their application.

Applying for skilled-work or unskilled-work visas

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be a new process for EU citizens arriving in the UK before 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, a new skills-based immigration system will launch.

For non-EU nationals, EU Exit will not affect the application process for work visas.

Food and drink labelling including organic produce

If you’re involved in the agri-food business, labelling rules will change for some food and drink. Some of the new rules will come into effect from 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020). For others, you’ll have longer to update your food labels. Read more in the guidance food labelling changes after Brexit.

Pesticides regulations

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you must meet new regulations for producing or placing pesticides on the market.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will continue to operate as the UK’s regulator. Read their guidance on regulating pesticides if there’s no deal.

Chemical regulations

If your business uses chemicals, you should take the following steps to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal:

You should check contingency plans across your supply chain to find out what information you need to supply to UK agencies, logistics providers, suppliers and customers.

Trade agreements

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no implementation period. In this scenario, the government will seek to bring into force UK-third country agreements from exit day, or as soon as possible afterwards.

These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements as far as possible. Where replacement trade agreements are not agreed, trade would take place on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms with that country. Details of each agreement will be shared with parliament and the public when they have been agreed.

Read the guidance on existing free trade agreements if there’s no Brexit deal.

Data protection

Your business will need to make sure it follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) without a deal.

If you operate across the EU or exchange personal data with organisations in the EEA, there may be changes that you need to make before the UK leaves the EU.

Read the 6 step process and the data protection guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You can also check if you can use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transfers from the EEA to the UK.

More information

Visit Prepare your business for EU Exit to find more guidance on policy changes relevant to your sector and sign up for updates.

Published 18 February 2019
Last updated 21 February 2019 

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