The message comes as the Department for International Trade sets out its core principles as it embarks on securing free trade deals with the rest of the world.
NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz said: “It’s reassuring to see a clear commitment to safeguarding our high standards of environmental protection and animal welfare in our future trade negotiations. We also welcome the assurance that nothing in any agreement will undermine the Government’s commitment to tackling climate change. This will be crucial if UK farming is to meet our ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
“It is also important that the UK government has acknowledged that it should walk away from any trade deals if the terms aren’t right. Seeking a trade deal at any cost runs the risk of the UK making unacceptable concessions just to get a final agreement over the line.
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“The government must ensure any trade deals we negotiate promote, rather than undermine, the farming the UK excels in, with its high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. This means ensuring that the food we import meets the same high standards required of UK farmers – not only ensuring UK farming can thrive, but that it can act as a gold standard for farming across the world to emulate.
“We urge the government to make an explicit commitment that it will ensure all food imports meet those standards too and that they these commitments in law, ensuring legislative protection for our high standards of production and food safety.
“Free trade can be a force for good, but it must involve a balance between promoting growth and productivity amongst domestic producers, providing greater affordability and choice for the public, and promoting more sustainable models of production and consumption across the world. The NFU looks forward to working with the government as it negotiates trade agreements and re-establishes itself as a global leader on the international stage in realising all three of these objectives.”
More of the NFU's work on trade deals and and standards:
- New tariff regime must support thriving UK agriculture, NFU says
- Letter to Prime Minister: NFU leads charge on trade and standards
- NFU President writes to The Times on food standards
- NFU media coverage: Food standards
- NFU calls for trade and standards commission to uphold food values post-Brexit
- EU Exit news and analysis