A large number of constituents have contacted me about maintaining British food production standards ahead of any future trade deals.
I work closely with the NFU and I was fully supportive of their food standards campaign. British consumers quite rightly want high welfare produce and if our trading partners want to break into the UK market, they should expect to meet those standards. The manifesto I stood on was clear that in all trade negotiations, our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards will not be compromised. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.
I am pleased that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements. I know that the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before Parliament.
I am pleased that the Government has agreed to establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission. By forming this Commission, Ministers can ensure close engagement with the agriculture industry to help inform, shape and guide agricultural trade policy, so that this is recognised throughout our trade negotiations. Once the Commission has finished its work, it will produce a recommendatory report in line with its terms of reference that will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade. The Membership of the Trade and Agriculture Commission has now been announced and further details can be found at this link: Trade and Agriculture Commission
Finally, I am pleased that the Government are already engaging with the agricultural sector as part of its trade discussions, including the National Farmers Union. It is encouraging that Ministers share my determination to ensure our future trade agreements will deliver benefits for our brilliant farmers and food producers.
Speaking about the Trade and Agriculture Commission, President of the NFU, Minette Batters, said:
"Today’s announcement (regarding the Trade and Agriculture Commission) is a hugely important development in ensuring UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals. It addresses a crucial element of a much broader challenge in ensuring the UK’s trade policy delivers a prosperous and sustainable future for UK agriculture. This means securing trade deals that work for UK farmers and consumers, as well as our farmed animals and our environment, and we will continue to work with Parliamentarians so that they have proper oversight of our trade policy.
All of this will be underpinned by the important work of the Trade and Agriculture Commission in the months ahead, and the NFU stands ready to contribute its technical expertise so that the Commission can do this job as quickly and robustly as possible. The role of the independent Chair will be critical, and we look forward to working with him in the weeks ahead to ensure the Commission meets the expectations and ambitions of all the consumers, campaigners and farmers who have demonstrated over recent months how important this issue is."