NFU media coverage on food standards and trade

BBC Countryfile feature Simon Barton on food standards_72828

May 2020

The Guardian reports NFU President Minette Batters' call for the government to ensure that any future trade policy ensures that goods imported under a free trade agreement are produced to as high or higher standards of animal welfare, environmental protection, food hygiene and plant health, as are currently applied under UK law.

Green MP Caroline Lucas mentions the NFU’s ‘alarm’ after learning the government planned to slash US food import tariffs in a piece for the New Statesman in which she criticises the Trade Bill for including nothing “that will protect the food standards which keep us safe, nor safeguard the livelihoods of our farmers who follow much higher animal welfare standards.”

Metro reports comments from Conservative MP Andrew Percy saying there was ‘no particular reason’ why he didn’t vote on an amendment to uphold British farming standards during the report stage of the Agriculture Bill last week while quoting the NFU's efforts to urge MPs in supporting the amendments tabled to protect Britain's food standards from sub-standard imports that could be illegal to produce here.  

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'' by asking for a commission that will protect UK food from sub-standard imports and for more parliamentary scrutiny over future trade deals.

The Independent picked up on farmers’ concerns over reports that the government is planning to slash tariffs on food imports from the US as part of a planned trade deal, quoting NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz saying 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 yesterday after David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief negotiator, accused the EU of demanding too much from a post-Brexit trade deal. NFU director of EU exit and international Nick von Westenholz is quoted highlighting concerns with proposals from international trade secretary Liz Truss to scrap tariffs on US imports.

The Financial Times reports the UK government is drawing up plans to slash tariffs on US agricultural imports to advance progress on a trade deal despite concerns from some ministers and Conservative MPs about the damage they could cause to British farming. 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 those goods have been produced.

Press Association reported renewed calls from farming leaders for an annual assessment of UK food security and to protect high food and environmental standards as part of new laws for agriculture. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted expressing concerns that the Agriculture Bill does not reflect any learnings from the covid-19 pandemic and said the Government could easily make changes to ensure food security was monitored on an annual basis and to set up the trade and standards commission.

The Daily Telegraph reports that farming experts have said a ban on foreign food suppliers with poor hygiene should be added to the agriculture bill to prevent future pandemics, citing comments from Gareth Morgan, Soil Association Head of Farming & Land Use Policy. The NFU’s letter to MPs ahead of the reading today is quoted.

BBC Farming Today summarised the industry's concerns over the Agriculture Bill, including a clip of NFU President Minette Batters saying at NFU Conference 2020 that British farmers should not be undermined by food imports that would be illegal to produce in the UK. 

On BBC Farming Today, the programme covered trade negotiations with the US ahead of the Agriculture Bill going to report stage in the House of Commons. NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz said any trade deals must be in the interests of farmers and the British public and that a trade and standards commission would allow complex comparisons of standards to be managed (listen from around 7 mins).

April 2020

NFU director of EU exit and international trade Nick von Westenholz is 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 maintain British food standards that do not undermine farmers in this country. 

ExpressOnline reported George Eustice insisting that the UK will ensure British food standards are protected before any deal is struck with the US. NFU President Minette Batters is quoted from conference, voicing concerns about the lack of concrete assurances.

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

Minette Batters Irish Independent column on food standards_72749

February 2020

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

In full: Sophy Ridge On Sunday -  watch from 39 minutes

In a comment for The Times, Alice Thomson wrote that Britain needs its farmers more than ever, quoting NFU President Minette Batters’ point that it would be environmentally insane to import so much food by ship and plane from less fertile countries when Britain’s climate provides ideal conditions for farming.

The Times Alice Thomson column_72666

The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, and the Daily Mirror led with NFU President Minette Batters’ speech at NFU Conference 2020, highlighting her comments around avoiding trade deals that would allow imports of foods that would be illegal to produce here.

January 2020

A column by Mrs Batters featured 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

Mrs Batters appeared on BBC1's Question Time, and debated the direction of trade negotiations following the Brexit deadline day of 31 January. 

NFU President Minette Batters was also interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s Today the following morning, in which she reiterated the importance of prioritising standards ahead of making international trade deals.

Also included within the package, NFU uplands forum chairman Thomas Binns was interviewed on his concerns around how trade negotiations will play out for farmers. Listen from 1hr 16mins mins and 1hr 34 mins.

Industry call to action on food standards

The Daily Telegraph’s front page reported a rare 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.

NFU member James Small talked to BBC Points West about how farmers’ lives will change as a result of leaving the EU, highlighting the importance of the Agriculture Bill and securing trade deals that maintain Britain’s high food standards.

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

On Farming Today, the programme reported from both days at the Oxford Farming Conference, with NFU President Minette Batters’ call for a trade and standards commission to scrutinise future trade negotiations highlighted. 

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.

Agriculutre Bill confirmed for January 2020

Press Association and The Daily Telegraph report that Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers confirms the Government’s landmark Agriculture Bill will be introduced this month to Parliament. Mrs Batters is quoted heavily throughout, and urges the government to invest in water infrastructure and flood mitigation.

Mrs Batters 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.

NFU members: Have your say

Want to share your views? You must be logged in to comment – please login here. Not a member? Join us here.

© 2020 - NFUonline