NFU President Minette Batters has written to the Prime Minister calling for clarity and consistency across government for a Brexit that backs British food production.
The letter follows a meeting between the Prime Minister and NFU President last week at 10 Downing Street and reinforces the strong message that Mrs Batters conveyed to Mrs May on the significance of farming’s contribution to society, the environment and the economy.
In particular, Mrs Batters reiterated the firm stance the NFU is taking in demanding that government ensures the high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards that underpin British food production are not undermined by our post-Brexit trade policy.
Alongside this, Mrs Batters emphasised to the Prime Minister the public’s desire for “strong safeguards, with legal underpinning, to ensure food imported from overseas is not produced to lower, cheaper standards which would put our farmers at a competitive disadvantage while also undermining choice and safety for the public.”
Despite welcome assurances from the Prime Minister in their meeting last week, Mrs Batters said in the letter that she is very concerned that there is not a united view across government on this.
With the key cabinet meeting at Chequers this week, and with the imminent publication of the government’s Brexit White Paper, Mrs Batters said that she hopes to see the NFU’s views reflected in the government’s vision for the Brexit settlement and our future relationship with the EU.
“We support a whole economy approach that avoids carving out agri-food products from broader arrangements for trade in goods in a way that threatens to introduce unacceptable and damaging levels of friction in trade with our biggest trading partner,” she writes. “Without firm and clear safeguards, there is a real risk that future trading relationships outside the EU will allow access to our markets for cheap imports produced to lower standards.”
Also in the letter, Mrs Batters made clear to the Prime Minister what her vision of success will look like. “I want British farmers and growers to remain the number one supplier of choice to the UK market,” she writes. “And I want British people to be able to enjoy more sustainable, quality, affordable British food at a range of different prices that suit all incomes while exporting more great British produce abroad.”