Retailers, farming unions, consumer, hospitality and environmental bodies from across the UK have been named as members of the Government’s new Trade and Agriculture Commission.
It will be chaired by food safety expert Tim Smith, a former Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency and Tesco Group Technical Director.
The English, Scottish and Welsh branches of the National Farmers Union (NFU) are all represented, as are the Ulster Farmers Union and the Farmers’ Union of Wales. Other members include the British Retail Consortium, UK Hospitality, and the Food and Drink Federation.
It will report directly to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, advising on:
- Trade policies the Government should adopt to secure opportunities for UK farmers, while ensuring the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined.
- Advancing and protecting British consumer interests and those of developing countries.
- How the UK engages the WTO to build a coalition that helps advance higher animal welfare standards across the world.
- Developing trade policy that identifies and opens up new export opportunities for the UK agricultural industry – in particular for SMEs – and that benefits the UK economy as a whole.
The scope of the Commission was agreed after close consultation between farming unions, the Department for International Trade and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It will be set up for six months and submit an advisory report at the end of its work which will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade.
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said: “My officials and I are working round the clock to ensure that any trade deal we strike brings the very best opportunities to the UK’s farming community.
“We recognise the importance of engaging with the agriculture industry and seeking expert advice, which is why we have set up the Commission.
“We are putting British farming first and giving our producers the best opportunity to export their world class food abroad and grow their businesses. Our high food and animal welfare standards won’t be compromised.”
George Eustice, Environment Secretary said: “We have been consistently clear that we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in all of our trade negotiations.
“The Agriculture and Trade Commission will ensure that the UK’s agricultural industry, our support for farmers and our commitment to high welfare standards are maintained. This Government will work hard to ensure any future trade deals are in their best interests and will prioritise both food production and our world-leading environmental targets.
“The agriculture and food industries are our largest manufacturing sectors employing more than 4 million people and contributing £120 billion to our economy. The new Commission will play a crucial part advising on how trade policy can create further growth and stimulate this critical pillar of our economy.
Chair of the Agriculture and Trade Commission, Tim Smith, said; “The trade decisions the Government is making now will shape the future not just of British food and farming, but the whole country, so it is important that the voices of industry and the British public are heard.
“This Commission will bring a clear-eyed perspective on what is fair and works for consumers, farmers, food producers and animals. I am delighted to chair it, and look forward to independently advising the Government on how trade policy can both protect and advance the interests of British farming and the UK as a whole.”
President of the NFU, Minette Batters, said; “Today’s announcement (regarding the Trade and Agriculture Commission) is a hugely important development in ensuring UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals. It addresses a crucial element of a much broader challenge in ensuring the UK’s trade policy delivers a prosperous and sustainable future for UK agriculture. This means securing trade deals that work for UK farmers and consumers, as well as our farmed animals and our environment, and we will continue to work with Parliamentarians so that they have proper oversight of our trade policy.
“All of this will be underpinned by the important work of the Trade and Agriculture Commission in the months ahead, and the NFU stands ready to contribute its technical expertise so that the Commission can do this job as quickly and robustly as possible. The role of the independent Chair will be critical, and we look forward to working with him in the weeks ahead to ensure the Commission meets the expectations and ambitions of all the consumers, campaigners and farmers who have demonstrated over recent months how important this issue is.”
The members of the commission are:
- Ex-Tesco Tech Director/FSA – Tim Smith (Chair)
- NFU England – Nick von Westenholz
- NFU Scotland – Andrew McCornick
- NFU Cymru – John Davies
- Ulster Farmers Union – Victor Chestnutt
- The Farmers Union of Wales – Glyn Roberts
- Lamb Farmer – Rob Hodgkins
- Competere – Shanker Singham
- Former Chief Veterinary Officer – Nigel Gibbens
- British Retail Consortium – Andrew Opie
- Former Trade Minister – Lord Price
- Trade Out Of Poverty – Tom Pengelly
- Former Trade Minister and Agriculture Minister for New Zealand – Sir Lockwood Smith
- UKHospitality – Kate Nicholls
- Food and Drink Federation – Ian Wright CBE
- LEAF – Caroline Drummond