Wessex Lowlines has been forced to suspend more than £150,000 of orders and could abandon future activities in Europe due to post-Brexit changes at sea ports. The company has spent a decade breeding world-leading cattle genetics with customers on the continent who want to buy their breeding stock.
However, the failure to set up a Border Control Post (BCP) to provide crucial veterinary services and the processing of livestock entering Europe means that orders in France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the rest of Europe have been suspended.
Geoff Roper, the owner of the Wessex Lowlines, says the lack of a BCP within Europe has cost the business more than £150,000 in the past six months alone, and that no resolution is in sight.
Mr Roper said: “It has taken us more than a decade to breed a large herd of Lowline cattle to serve customers in the UK, Ireland and across Europe. We had a strategy and it was working but it has been pulled apart by this failure to provide services across the Channel. What’s even more frustrating is that the UK has fulfilled the necessary requirements and livestock is able to enter from Europe.
“Customers have been really patient but they have been waiting for over a year for us to be able to transport the animals from our farm to theirs and we simply can’t do it without the checks being in place over the border.
“Obviously it’s painful financially but it’s heartbreaking for the small team who have put their lives into this project to see it blocked by something that could so simply be fixed.”
Mr Roper has asked his MP, the NFU, DEFRA and others for help in resolving the matter but says he doesn’t feel like there is any urgency from the UK or French governments to act.
He said: “We’ve been told it could be 18 months or more before we get any movement on this issue which, when you’re farming livestock, is no good. Our customers want young animals, often with their calves too, and it takes years of planning to make that happen.
“We have bred herds specifically for the customers we have and now we can’t fulfil the orders to them. It’s devastating.”
Mr Roper’s herd of Lowlines is believed to be the largest in Europe. The breed is indigenous to the UK and Wessex Lowlines was the first to be able to supply breeding animals into Europe, establishing herds in Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain.
The breed is popular due to the quality of the meat, the feed conversion efficiency and docile nature. They have no horns and can be finished on grass without the need for grain in the ration.