Brexit impact - Q & A with head of Procurement and Production

Brexit impact - Q & A with head of Procurement and Production

The Brexit transition period is fast approaching as new controls come into effect from the 1st January, we asked our head of Production and Procurement, Jonathan Whittemore, some questions about the challenges the nursery faces ahead.

What challenges will the new changes bring?

We will have to have stock inspected and a phytosanitary certificate issued prior to dispatch, so this will add additional cost and time into the dispatch process. We are often asked for the stock by our clients that will have to be procured in the EU, in terms of plant health inspections this could mean an inspection in the EU prior to collection, an inspection on arrival in Great Britain, an inspection prior to dispatch from Great Britain and an inspection on arrival in Northern Ireland – four inspections in one week.

How are we preparing for these new checks and controls?

Much time has been spent trying to understand what we will need to do – conversations with DEFRA, APHA, the HTA, and customs agents in the UK and EU. The process is complex but preparations for EU exit have always been presented to UK businesses as ‘Just get an EORI number and a customs agent and everything will be fine’ that is far from the reality of the situation.

What are your concerns about the increased cost and health certificates?

Plant health and biosecurity are critically important to UK horticulture, but we are finding it difficult to see the value that the required process of inspections will bring to us. The majority of the additional cost in what we are required to do will come from the phytosanitary certificates and inspections around them. We need proportionate systems, clarity of operation, administrative burden and costs kept to a minimum.

Do you envisage issues after the transition period?

Really difficult to say. Until we get into next year, we won’t know for sure, but we are preparing for the worst-case scenario and hoping things are better. There has to be some disruption but who knows how damaging that will be. Supply chains will definitely be slowed down and imported plants more expensive.

Any other issues around BREXIT that are of concern?

I am sure that in Brexit the industry will find opportunities but at the moment they are not evident, and rather than being able to focus on finding them, we seem to be scrabbing to understand what we need to do to keep trading.

We have not been given sufficient time to prepare properly, I feel compromised and like we have little support in navigating our way through the unknown. The uncertainty of our predicament is, at times, crippling.

Posted 11th Dec 11:44am