Many thanks for your interest in maintaining British food production standards ahead of any future trade deals.
The UK 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. 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.
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. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreement.
Scrutiny of trade deals and recommendations on future of agri-food trade policy
We are already engaging with the agricultural sector as part of our trade discussions. The NFU is the agricultural representative on the Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group. The Government is determined to ensure that our future trade agreements will deliver benefits for our brilliant farmers and food producers.
Trade talks have already formally opened with the US following wide ranging consultation. Ahead of negotiations, the Government set out negotiating objectives, as well as a response to the public consultation and an initial economic assessment. A similar process will be replicated in the coming months, as the government lays out detailed proposals for deals with Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
On the matter of food security, our landmark Agriculture Bill sets out that, for the first time, the Government will have a duty to take a regular, systematic view of our overall food security, at least every five years, giving us enough time to observe key trends from a variety of sources. Ministers have highlighted that they will not wait to publish the first report.
I hope that the above reassures you that we are committed to maintaining our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We are a world leader in these areas and that will not change.
Sally-Ann Hart MP