NFU and BVA urge government to back British farming standards as USA publishes trade deal objectives

The NFU and BVA have cautioned that British farming standards, including animal welfare, must not be sacrificed in future US trade deal.
calendar icon 4 March 2019
clock icon 4 minute read

Responding to the publication of the United States of America’s negotiating objectives for a potential UK/USA trade deal, NFU President Minette Batters said: “It comes as no surprise that the USA is seeking comprehensive access to the UK’s agricultural market and is pushing for a trade deal that accepts US production standards and practices.

“The NFU has been very clear on this point. It is imperative that any future trade deals, including a possible deal with the USA, do not allow the imports of food produced to lower standards than those required of British farmers.

“British people value and demand the high standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety that our own farmers adhere to. These world-leading standards must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of reaching rushed trade deals. We should not accept trade deals which allow food to be imported into this country produced in ways which would be illegal here.

“Last week at NFU Conference, the NFU laid out its proposals for a high-level commission of food and farming experts that will make clear recommendations on our future food trade policy. It is vital that this is established as a priority.

“We will continue to work with others to ensure safeguards are included in legislation that establish a comprehensive role for Parliament in scrutinising and ratifying future trade deals, and to ensure food imports into the UK are produced to at least our own high standards.

“British farmers play a strategically important role in producing food for the nation, all while caring for our cherished countryside. There is the potential for British farming to produce more and export our high standards around the world, whilst at the same time ensuring we take further steps to safeguard Britain’s environment. We are urging government to seize this opportunity.”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says the UK should prioritise the health and welfare of farmed animals in any trade negotiations. With the USA objectives now tabled, BVA reiterates its calls for government not to undermine current farming and agricultural systems working to high standards with the import of animal products that may not meet these.

BVA President, Simon Doherty said:

“The UK must make the health and welfare of farmed animals a priority in any trade negotiations to ensure that any products coming into the UK meet the same high standards expected of UK farmers.

“BVA is concerned that if lower standard products are allowed to enter the UK, it would become difficult for consumers to distinguish between the two and thus make informed choices about the products they buy.

“Within the UK these goods could become indistinguishable from UK produce, jeopardising the ability of UK farmers to trade using the good reputation of the UK as a high animal health and welfare producer. Allowing animal products onto the UK market which do not comply with EU regulations, will mean the need for veterinary checks on UK goods entering the EU Single Market would rise. This would place additional delays on UK producers selling into the EU.

“Although the USA objectives state that scientific based checks are taken in the interest of public health, this does not address the issue of animal health and welfare at other stages of the production line. The UK and EU take a farm to fork approach, meaning that regulations are in place to ensure that high standards are set at every step. BVA strongly recommends that the government consults the veterinary profession on any changes in government policy relating to the import or export of farmed animal products.”

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