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Cheese firm reveals Brexit export blow

By Donald Turvill
Dumfries and West
Cheese firm reveals Brexit export blow

AN ORGANIC dairy farm in Castle Douglas has bashed new red tape on exports to the EU’s single market after it was forced to stop shipping cheese to Northern Ireland this week.

The Ethical Dairy said in a statement on Monday it was suspending orders for delivery to Northern Ireland “with immediate effect”, adding: “We just don’t have the resources to undertake the paperwork required.”

It joins a growing list of agricultural exporters adversely affected by the emerging processes involved with exporting products of animal origin to the EU27 and NI since the UK’s departure from the EU on January 1.

Wilma Finlay, who runs the farm alongside her husband David, took to Twitter to explain the firm’s situation on Tuesday after thousands replied in dismay to the news.

She said the unpasteurised organic cheese – 80 per cent of which is sold online – is dispatched in small quantities and sent overnight direct to customers’ homes.

Mrs Finlay added: “The paperwork now required to send products of animal origin into the single market is understandably designed for moving large volumes of produce.

“In other words, it’s simply not designed for businesses like us. Our understanding is that every delivery of organic dairy products into Northern Ireland now requires a vet’s health certificate and an organic inspection certificate, plus associated export paperwork.”

She stressed that this process would be required for each individual order – and that the cost associated with meeting these requirements makes exporting cheese to Northern Ireland “simply not viable”.

She said, however, that staff are “not unfamiliar” with the paperwork involved with exporting around the world – recalling that ten years ago the Ethical Dairy’s sister company, Cream o’ Galloway, shipped ice cream products to South Korea.

“The export paperwork required to do this was similar,” she said. “The difference is the scale.”

“Vet certificates and export paperwork are justifiable to enable export of a shipping container of ice cream. It simply isn’t justifiable, from a business point of view, to do this for an individual order of cheese.”

The “biggest blow” for the dairy, she said, is letting down existing customers in Northern Ireland.

Commenting, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “This is just one example of the devastating consequences of Brexit for our local businesses.

“It is terrible that a company such as The Ethical Dairy has been forced to stop selling to customers in Northern Ireland due to the red tape and ill thought out bureaucracy of the new Brexit requirements.

“This is the kind of result that many people were concerned about and unfortunately this won’t be the last small company in Dumfries and Galloway who is forced to make very difficult and costly decisions due to Brexit.”

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