There has been some concern that British food standards might be reduced in future trade deals. I think this may come from a mis-understanding of the Agriculture Bill in the media.
The Government will not compromise on our standards. Our manifesto is clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU and the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. Thus I am pleased that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements.
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.
We all rightly want high welfare produce and if our trading partners want to break into the UK market, they should expect to meet those standards.
Some have suggested that we need a Food Standards Commissioner. I do not believe a new Commissioner is required. The UK’s food standards, for both domestic production and imports, are overseen by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. These are independent agencies and provide advice to the UK and Scottish governments. They will continue to do so in order to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards.
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.
I have made further comment on the Agriculture Bill at https://www.johnhowell.org.uk/news/comment-agriculture-bill. This also includes a link to the Minister's excellent summary of the Bill.