The Welsh Government has said it will pay for vets to receive specialist training so food from Wales can continue to be exported in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29, all products of animal origin will need an Export Health Certificate (EHC) to be sent to the bloc.
The UK’s former chief veterinary officer, Nigel Gibbens, has warned the new requirement would mean the volume of certificates needed would rise by 325 per cent.
As a result, demand for Official Veterinarians (OVs) to carry out this work is expected to significantly increase, but a recent survey from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) found 47 per cent of those already doing the job were planning to quit because of concerns over the cost of renewing their qualifications.
Vets are currently expected to pay £99 plus VAT for the training, but the Welsh Government has now agreed to cover the expense, allocating £96,000 to support the need for EHCs.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I am pleased we have been able to support the veterinary sector through our EU Transition Fund.
“Veterinary surgeons have already begun receiving extra training to provide EHCs and this funding is helping to address the significant risk to the export of animal produce from Wales post-Brexit.”
The funded scheme, run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in conjunction with Iechyd Da and Menter a Busnes, will train at least 80 vets in the export health certification process.
Veterinary surgeon and representative of Iechyd Da, Ifan Lloyd said: “This is a key initiative to ensure the veterinary profession in Wales is in a state of preparedness in the event of a no-deal Brexit and that exporters have easy access to qualified vets to undertake their certification requirements.”
In England, Defra Secretary Michael Gove has suggested non-vets could sign off EHCs to meet increased demand.
The plan has been met with anger by the BVA, which said it would increase the risk of animal welfare breaches.