Defra plans £27 flat-rate inspection fee for all young plant imports

The NFU has welcomed new proposals to temporarily introduce a flat-rate inspection fee of £27 for all imports of young plants regardless of their destination.

The government's new proposals come as imports of young plants destined for UK nurseries are currently subject to a 100% inspection level.

This is compared to a 5-10 percent inspection level for the same plants destined for the retail sector.

In its response to a Defra consultation on the subject, the NFU highlighted that the change would make this import inspection system fairer for growers.

Currently, for imported young plants destined to be grown at UK nurseries, the inspection fee is around £200.

Yet for the same plants sent straight to retail, which may be grown on by consumers, the inspection fee around £20.

The NFU said that this discrepancy risked retailers sourcing more imported product, rather than UK-grown products.

NFU horticulture adviser Christine McDowell said: “Defra’s proposal to introduce a flat rate inspection fee would deliver greater fairness in the inspection regime and would save growers thousands of pounds in fees.

“While it is only proposed as a temporary solution, until a full plant imports risk assessment can be completed, it has the support of growers who welcome what they see as Defra levelling the playing field for UK growers.

“The NFU has worked closely with Defra on this issue, highlighting how the current fee structure could damage domestic production and by providing a competitive advantage to imported plants and produce.

"We are pleased to see Defra put forward this proposal, which has our full support.”

In a separate consultation, the NFU reiterated to Defra the importance of an inspection regime that is based on data and science around the probability of a pest or disease being found in an imported product.

Defra is currently in the process of collecting data that will better enable inspections to be set at appropriate, risk-based levels.

The NFU believes GB growers should be given biosecurity ‘credit’ not just for the processes they have undertaken in producing a finished plant, but also for the processes they will undertake in growing-on imported propagation material.

Source: Farming UK