NFU media coverage on food standards and trade

NFU President Minette Batters on the BBC's Question Time programme, February 2020_72093

July 2020

NFU Vice President emphasises the UK's world-leading antibiotic resistance

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw told Express.co.uk that chlorinated chicken will not be the main challenge faced by the UK in seeking a trade deal with the US, pointing out that US chicken production uses five times the level of antibiotics of the UK and asking why we would want to undermine our world-leading status when it comes to antibiotic resistance.

Environment and animal welfare groups call for more say over trade deals

The Financial Times reported a letter to international trade secretary Liz Truss, signed by the leaders of more than 20 major environmental and animal welfare groups, that calls on the UK government to give MPs and civil society a bigger say over the content of new trade deals.

Meanwhile, The Independent reflected on the uncertainty surrounding a US trade deal now that a Commission has been set up. Both articles reference the NFU's food standards petition, which reached 1m signatures from the public. 

Tim Smith appointed as Trade & Agriculture Commission chairman

The Daily Telegraph reported comments from Tim Smith, former Tesco executive who has been appointed chairman of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, who said policy over trade deals with the US and other countries must be “informed by evidence and expert opinion”. The NFU's lobbying work was referenced in the piece. 

Aldi pledges to support British suppliers

Daily Mirror headline on Aldi's standards pledge_74080

The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, ipaper, and The Independent picked up on Aldi's pledge to never allow chlorinated chicken on their shelves regardless of the outcome of trade negotiations. CEO Giles Hurley said there were no plans to change its commitment to supporting British suppliers and mentioned that Aldi is a signatory to the NFU's Back British Farming campaign.

MPs back calls for Trade & Agriculture Commission to have 'real power'

Mail on Sunday online headline on trade and agriculture commission 5.7.20_74002

The Mail on Sunday reported that Boris Johnson has been warned by MPs that the Trade and Agriculture Commission must be given 'real teeth' and must be established on a statutory footing. The article references NFU President Minette Batters also urging the DIT secretary Liz Truss to set out more details to ensure the commission is effective and independent.

WWF UK supports Save our Family Farms campaign

The Mail on Sunday reported the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) had thrown its its support behind its Save Our Family Farms campaign, warning of an 'unedifying race to the bottom' in food standards if British farmers are forced to compete with inferior foreign imports in an op-ed by WWF-UK chief executive Tanya Steele. The NFU's ongoing food standards petition is mentioned as part of the piece. 

June 2020

NFU secures Trade and Agriculture Commission

The national papers cover the NFU's reaction to the news that the government will create an independent commission to advise on post-Brexit agriculture trade policy after 18 months of campaigning. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted across the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, the Daily Express and BBC News recognising this "hugely important development" and expressing interest in working with the government to ensure the commission is genuinely valuable.

Financial Times coverage of standards commission announcement_73917

On BBC Farming Today, Mrs Batters told Anna Hill that we will be pressing for parliament to have full oversight of trade discussions and that the commission will allow the government to honour its promise not to allow farmers to be undermined by future trade deals. Listen from 9mins 35secs.

Mail on Sunday 'Save our Family Farms' campaign

The Mail on Sunday ran stories on the impact a US trade deal could have on the egg sector, the top chefs declaring their support for the NFU’s trade asks and Neil Hudson MP writing a column on why he rebelled against the government to vote for the standards amendment to the Agriculture Bill. Coverage included a quote from NFU poultry adviser Aimee Mahoney who said the government must not agree to trade deals that would allow fod imports tyhat would be illegal for our farmers to rpoduce here while Neil Hudson referenced the NFU's petition and its 1m signatures.

Mail on Sunday headline on standardsndards_73897

Will Hutton, principal of Hertford College, Oxford, and co-chair of the Purposeful Company, wrote in The Observer that if there is no deal with the EU, the whole British food supply chain, with its just-in-time delivery and suppliers all over the EU, will disintegrate and that "we're right not to trust what goes into American food". The piece mentions the NFU's work throughout the passage of the Agriculture Bill to ensure the government fulfils its promise to protect Britain's food standards. 

NFU reacts to government assurances on food standards

On BBC Radio 4's Today, the programme featured a package highlighting international trade Secretary Liz Truss' assurances that food standards would not be sacrificed in pursuit of a trade deal with the US. When asked why the issue of standards could not simply be left up to consumers, NFU President Minette Batters raised the question of how the public will know where their food has come from when eating out.

Beef farmer Joe Stanley was also featured and said that small businesses would struggle to continue with the increase of lower quality food imports.

Waitrose commits to maintaining high food standards

The Guardian, The Independent and BBC News reported that new boss of Waitrose James Bailey has joined farmers and food campaigners in urging the government to protect food standards in post-Brexit trade deals. The articles refer to how the NFU's campaign to protect British farmers from lower-quality food imports played a role in this decision.

A million people sign NFU's food standards petition 

The Daily Mail picks up the Press Association's report that the NFU's food standards petition has hit one million signatures. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted saying the government must now give guarantees to the British people that they have listened to their concerns.

Yorkshire Post headline Minette Batters column on food standards petition_73896

In a column in the Yorkshire Post, NFU President Minette Batters outlined what can be done to ensure British food standards are protected moving forwards.

The NFU's food standards petition success gained more media attention, with it being the focus of a Mail on Sunday report.

The petition also made the front page of Western Morning News, emphasising the overwhelming support for British farmers and that over 78,000 people also wrote to their MPs.

Western Morning News covers the NFU petition on food standards on its front page_73828

As the NFU's food standards petition neared 1m signatures, Mrs Batters talked to BBC Radio 4's PM programme in an 8-minute slot with Evan Davis to discuss the NFU’s work on food standards and the success of our petition. The petition later hit 1m signatures!

On BBC Farming Today's Anna Hill, Mrs Batters emphasised why it is imperative for the UK to maintain its food standards whilst negotiating new trade deals with the European Union and the USA and why she rejects the view by some commentators that the NFU is being protectionist in its approach.

TV chefs back British Farming

TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Jamie Doherty publicly supported British farmers with both writing columns in the Mail on Sunday. Jamie Oliver argued that his campaign to halve childhood obesity by 2030 will not be achieved by allowing trade deals that will undercut British farmers and drive a race to the bottom in food standards while Jamie Doherty said that importing food that would be llegal to produce in the UK "makes a mockery of everything British farmers have been trying to do for the past 20 years."

The Financial Times’ big read reflected on the tensions over food security that are now playing out in the UK-EU trade talks, with the threat of a no-deal Brexit highlighted by NFU President Minette Batters as potentially “disastrous”. 

Read more coverage on the NFU's petition in The TelegraphThe Guardiani paper and Daily Express​.

Other trade news

The Daily Telegraph reported warnings from France's Europe Minister on Friday that Britain cannot afford a no-trade deal exit because of the economic impact of coronavirus following the passing of a report that said any EU tariffs would target agricultural products such as Welsh lamb. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted highlighting the urgency needed to ensure the UK's relationship is maintained through a zero tariff, zero quota agreement.

The Financial Times' long-read delved into the challenges ministers are facing in protecting British agriculture while delivering on Brexit promises. The NFU's petition on food standards is mentioned and the huge amount of public support it has galvanised.


May 2020

Reports of dual tariff scheme proposed by government

Follwing coverage in The Telegraph (see below) of a proposed dual tariff system in a US trade deal, The Independent reported a backlash, with the NFU's argument that trade agreements shouldn’t allow the import of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK and that an independent commission should be set up to review trade agreements included.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the latest Government proposal for a trade deal with the US would impose different levels of duty on imported foods, depending on whether they comply with UK animal welfare standards. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted describing the scheme as "a significant step forwards" because it would prevent the US from flooding the UK market with cheap food produced using techniques banned in Britain.

Daily Mail food standards campaign 

In one weekend, the Daily Mail featured more than five articles focussed on food standards ahead of international trade agreements:

One article reported the NFU’s concerns that international trade secretary Liz Truss will give way on vital areas of environmental and animal rights standards in a US trade deal, quoting NFU President Minette Batters saying that Brexit was meant to be about the creation of a bigger, better Britain, not turning us into a pariah state with no consideration for animal welfare.

Mail online food standards_73618

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz is also quoted in a Daily Mail story looking at the increase in sales of antibiotics in the US, highlighting that low-cost US food imports could spark a race to the bottom as the competition forces more UK farms to adopt industrial practices to survive.

Mr von Westenholz also featured on Mail+’s The Daily Show podcast with Andrew Pierce, talking about the implications for British farmers of a US trade deal.

Meanwhile, an op-ed from former MP Sir Nicholas Soames also ran in the Mail on Sunday, in which he urged government not to undercut "the very standards we rightly demand at home" and backed the NFU’s call for a Food and Standards Commission.

Trade Bill debate in Commons

The Press Association covered the NFU’s letter to MPs urging them to ask how the Government will honour its manifesto pledge that environmental and animal welfare standards for food produced in the UK will not be undermined in future trade policy. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted asking MPs to “speak up for British farming'' as the Bill began its passage through Parliament. The PA's article was shared across all newswires.

The Guardian also reported NFU President Minette Batters' asks that any future trade policy ensures that any agri-food imports meet our own food production standards.

The Guardian headline food standards_73620

UK/US trade

The Daily Telegraph reported a warning from former Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers that British farmers “will go out of business” as a consequence of a trade deal with the US. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted saying that she would support a UK-US trade deal as long as all imports meet the same legal standards that UK farmers adhere to.

The Financial Times covered reports of government plans to slash tariffs on US agricultural imports to advance progress on a trade deal. NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz is quoted saying any concessions on market access must be accompanied by clear conditions on how agri-food goods have been produced.

The Independent also covered the story quoting Mr von Westenholz, who said the proposals represent a clear breach of the government’s own explicit red lines in trade negotiations.

The Daily Express reported tensions between Britain and the EU flaring up around a post-Brexit trade deal and references Mr von Westenholz' comments around reports that the government plans to scrap tariffs on US imports.

Green MP Caroline Lucas mentioned the NFU’s ‘alarm’ about these proposals in a piece for the New Statesman, where she criticised the Trade Bill for not including measures to protect food standards and our farmers.

Agriculture Bill debate in Commons

Ahead of the Agriculture Bill returning to the Commons, BBC Farming Today, interviewed NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz about the NFU's asks.

The Press Association reported NFU President Minette Batters' comments expressing concerns that the Agriculture Bill needs to change to reflect learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic. The article also mentioned the NFU's calls for food security to be monitored on an annual basis and for the launch of a trade and standards commission.

The Daily Telegraph reported on the Agriculture Bill's return to Parliament and featured quotes from the NFU's letter to MPs, the Soil Association and The Wildlife Trusts. 

BBC Farming Today summarised the industry's concerns over the Agriculture Bill, and included a clip of NFU President Minette Batters NFU Conference saying that British farmers should not be undermined by food imports that would be illegal to produce in the UK. 

Following the Bill's passage through the Commons, the Metro mentioned the NFU's efforts to urge MPs to support tabled amendmentsm as part of a wider piece about Conservative MP Andrew Percy.


March 2020

Post-Brexit trade

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz was quoted in Politico's analysis of the resumption of UK-US trade negotiations, highlighting concerns that Britain will allow the import of cheap animal products that are produced to lower standards.

On BBC Countryfile, Tom Heap interviewed members Joe Stanley and Simon Barton on the importance of balancing the opportunities for exporting sustainable British produce with the need to ensure that British food standards are not undermined. 

Joe Stanley Countryfile_73617

In her column in The Times, Alice Thomson referenced NFU President Minette Batters’ point that it would be environmentally insane to import food by ship and plane from less fertile countries, when Britain’s climate provides ideal conditions for farming.

NFU President Minette Batters wrote a column for the Irish Independent arguing that the UK government must consider trade opportunities against the risk of undermining Britain's food production system by importing food produced to lower standards.

Irish Independent headline Minette Batters_73622

NFU President Minette Batters reinforced the food standards message in a Daily Express article about Department for International Trade analysis which showed the British economy would be, at most, 0.16% better of by a trade deal with the US. 

ExpressOnline reported George Eustice's comments insisting that British food standards will be protected in any trade deal with the US. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted from NFU Conference voicing concerns about the lack of concrete assurances.

NFU President Minette Batters appeared live on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday where she said it is paramount any food imports meet the same standards we have here.

Minette Batters Sky News Sophy Ridge_73616

Mrs Batters' interview on Sophy Ridge resulted in other print coverage, including in The SunDaily ExpressThe Independent and Daily Mirror.


February 2020

NFU Conference

Several national papers reported onNFU President Minette Batters’ opening speech at NFU Conference 2020, highlighting her comments around avoiding trade deals that would allow imports of food that would be illegal to produce here.

Conference coverage_73625


January 2020

Brexit Day

The day after the UK officially left the EU, NFU President Minette Batters wrote a column in The Independent showcasing the opportunity for Britain to become a global leader in food, and calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to legislate that any food imports will meet our own high production standards.Independent newspaper column Minette _72060

On Brexit Day, NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Today where she reiterated the importance of prioritising food production standards in international trade deals. NFU uplands forum chairman Thomas Binns was interviewed on the porgramme talking about how trade negotiations could play out for livestock farmers. 

Mrs Batters also appeared on BBC1's Question Time where she debated the direction of trade negotiations with James Cleverly MP.

Industry call to action on food standards

The Daily Telegraph’s front page reported a joint call to action in a letter to the Prime Minister from farming, wildlife and environmental organisations for food standards to be enshrined in law after we leave the EU.

Telegraph_73626

NFU President Minette Batters is featured in The Times, highlighting that a failure to set a fair baseline for British and foreign agricultural goods could drive UK farms out of business.

New Years' message from NFU President

Multiple outlets covered NFU President Minette Batters' New Year message, including the Mail Online and Daily Telegraph, which highlighted the NFU’s net zero plans and its asks on maintaining high food and farming standards on food imports post-Brexit.

NFU President Minette Batters was interviewed on Sky News to say that the government’s commitment to continue the same levels of farm funding for 2020 will help farmers manage risk, but that all food imports should be produced to at least the same standards as are legally required of UK farmers.

Oxford Farming Conference

NFU President Minette Batters spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ahead of Oxford Farming Conference and explained the importance of bringing together experts in a Trade and Standards Commission to scrutinise future free trade agreements.

BBC Farming Today reported from both days at the OFC, and included NFU President Minette Batters’ call for a trade and standards commission to scrutinise future trade negotiations. 

Agriculture Bill confirmed for January 2020

Press Association and The Daily Telegraph report that Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has confirmed the Agriculture Bill will be introduced this month to Parliament. Mrs Batters is quoted heavily throughout the articles.

Mrs Batters also featured in The Times, highlighting that a failure to set a fair baseline for British and foreign agricultural goods could drive UK farms out of business.

The Times_73627




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