Writing in response to the House of Common’s latest rejection of the Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill to force trade deals to meet UK food standards, the British Poultry Council has called for a cast iron guarantee from the Government that food standards will not be reduced in any trade deal.
On Monday night, the government voted down amendments to the bill that would have ensured the UK could not import food produced to lower standards than domestic producers are required to adhere to. 14 Conservative MPs rebelled, including Neil Parish, chair of the EFRA Select Committee, Theresa Villiers, former Defra secretary of state, and George Freeman, whose constituency is in a major poultry producing area in Norfolk.
British Poultry Council, Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said Brexit meant it was more important than ever to maintain UK’s animal welfare and food safety standards and protect them from dilution in trade deals and ensure nation’s access to affordable British food.
“The Government has repeatedly stated the UK will not compromise on our high standards of animal welfare, food production and environmental protection in trade negotiations, and we are asking them to live up to that commitment.
“If we lose control of the food that enters our markets, we risk diluting our own standards and compromise our future trading relationship with the EU and place barriers between us and our biggest and closest trading partner.
“Dilution of food standards will not only penalise British producers who have worked hard to achieve these standards, but also create a two-tier food system in which only the affluent will be able to afford to eat British food grown to British standards.
“Brexit must be used as an opportunity to re-focus our attention on British food values, to state boldly that prioritising high standard, affordable and sustainable British produce, for all, is at the top of our agenda. We want the Government to adopt policies that allow us to drive productivity, create good jobs and strengthen our food security in a thriving, independent UK post-Brexit.”