Guidance

The farming sector and preparing for EU Exit

If the UK leaves the EU 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.

Preparing to move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will face different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade.

Read the guidance on customs procedures and VAT for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Preparing for changes to existing trade agreements

Check the way you currently trade with non-EU countries. When the UK leaves the EU the way you access existing favourable arrangements with these countries may change. Changes may be different for each country.

Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.

Preparing for changes to import tariffs

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK would implement a temporary tariff regime. This would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation and review on a permanent approach is undertaken.

Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports would be tariff-free.

In certain sectors, tariffs would be maintained to support the most sensitive agricultural industries and to maintain the UK government’s commitment to developing countries.

Check the temporary rates of customs duty on imports after EU Exit.

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.

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 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. 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.

Animal breeding imports and exports

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your breed society or studbook must become third country listed if you want to continue zootechnical trade in the EU. Defra and the devolved administrations have started this process for UK breed societies and studbooks.

Unless the EU lists UK breed societies and studbooks you won’t be able to export animals to the EU on zootechnical terms.

Imports from the EU, and domestic UK zootechnical trade, will not be affected.

Read the guidance on changes to zootechnical rules if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

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.

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.

Right to work checks

Until January 2021 you should continue the same right to work checks on all EU/EEA and Swiss citizens, by using their passport or national identity card.

You will not need to distinguish between EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.

Find out how to check an applicant’s right to work and read the guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after Brexit.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who are resident in the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to get settled or pre-settled status. This will mean they can continue to live, work and study in the UK.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens 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.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who arrive in the UK after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK from exit day to 31 December 2020 can continue to come to the UK, to live, work and study without applying for a visa in advance.

After free movement ends, if they want to stay for longer than 3 months, they can read the guidance on staying in the UK to find out what they’ll need to do.

Irish citizens can continue to live, work and study in the UK, just as before.

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.

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 31 October 2019 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.

You can use the EU seasonal worker information for employers to give further details to your employees.

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 31 October 2019. For others, you’ll have longer to update your food labels. Read more in the guidance food labelling changes after Brexit.

Marketing standards

If your products are subject to marketing standards some of the processes you follow will change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Products that may be subject to changes include:

Currently, inspections are carried out by Defra and Local Authority Trading Officers to make sure products comply with marketing standards. Some of these checks happen inland, however, other checks take place at the border before imports are customs cleared.

UK exports to the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, marketing standards inspections on exports will continue. The UK government is working with the EU to minimise delays at the border and disruption to trade flows.

Until more information is available, exports will need to follow the third country requirements set out in the EC marketing standards regulations.

EU imports to the UK

EU imports to the UK will need to follow the UK’s third country processes for marketing standards. To minimise delays, there will be no inspections on EU imports at the border, however, there will be an increase in checks carried out inland.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

After the UK leaves the EU, the same controls on the environmental release of GMOs will continue to apply and will be implemented by the competent authorities in the UK.

For more information, see developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) if there’s no Brexit deal.

Fertilisers

You’ll still be able to buy the same amount and quality of fertiliser if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. For 2 years after the UK leaves the EU, all products can still be sold under:

  • the domestic framework
  • the EC fertiliser label

For more information, see manufacturing and marketing fertilisers if there is no Brexit deal.

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.

Data protection

Your business will need to make sure it follows data protection law if the UK leaves the EU 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 24 June 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added content on trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland, updated trade, tariff and employment sections.
  2. Adding link to marketing standards guidance for poultry meat.
  3. Added guidance on fertilisers.
  4. Added information on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  5. Tariffs guidance updated with information on the temporary tariff regime.
  6. Updating marketing standards section with more information about inspections, imports and exports.
  7. Guidance updated to include information on marketing standards.
  8. Added information on animal breeding imports and exports (zootechnical rules) in the event of a no deal. Added link to EU seasonal workers employer information.
  9. Added information on pesticides regulation in the event of a no deal.
  10. First published.