UK: 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 leveling the playing field for UK growers.

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