Minette Batters, the National Farmers Union president, says the new Government must do everything in its power to avoid the UK having to operate on WTO terms following Brexit. Anna Tobin reports
Following the general election result, the National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters said: “In our own election manifesto, we raised a number of crucial issues we need the new Government to address now, to ensure British food production has a sustainable and ambitious future.
“Top of that list is Brexit. It’s imperative we secure a future trade deal with the EU that is as free and frictionless as possible, avoiding the damaging spectre of trading with our largest partner on WTO terms. Alongside this, our future trade policy mustn’t allow imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal to produce here.
“The UK could embark on its first trade negotiations for decades in just 50 days’ time – the Government must set up a Trade and Standards Commission as a matter of urgency so that they can work with industry and stakeholders to ensure those negotiations do not allow the high standards which are the hallmark of UK farming to be undermined by imported food which would fail to meet our own domestic regulations and values surrounding animal welfare, environmental standards and traceability.
“From our ambitious vision for agriculture to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 to increasing our self-sufficiency by producing more high-quality, British food at home, British farmers are ready and able to tackle the challenges ahead as well as making the most of new opportunities.
“We live in a country that has some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world, all the while providing the British public with the third most affordable food on the planet, and at the same time maintaining and enhancing the iconic British landscape. That’s why the public trusts and supports British farmers.
“Britain needs the new Government to back British farming like never before; to invest in domestic food production so we can increase our productivity, create more jobs and deliver more for the environment. Government needs to act to ensure guaranteed access to a skilled and competent workforce; develop a framework for a more competitive and sustainable farming industry; put in place a long-term food strategy; and place science at the heart of policy making. This will allow farming businesses to continue doing what they do best – provide safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”