A letter, signed by groups as diverse as the Tenant Farmers Association and Greener UK, has called on the Government to put a set of core standards in place to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for food and animal welfare standards in any future trade deals.

The letter, which was sent to International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch ahead of the recent Conservative Party conference, urges the Minister to make sure that in any future trade deals, British food and farming standards are not undercut.

The letter highlights that the trade deal with Australia signed in 2021 left farmers in the UK competing with imported food that is produced to standards that would be illegal here.

Describing that move as “one-sided” and a “betrayal”, NFU President Minette Batters said that there must be a proper process involving all stakeholders to achieve a deal that “goes beyond merely warm words.”

The letter was sent as the Government prepares to close a new trade deal with India and is gearing up to complete its accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It effectively urges the Government to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Replaying Ms Badenoch’s own words from the 2018 Trade Bill debate, the signatories say that the UK should “demand the same standards of farmers in other countries as we do of our own…”

The letter points out that major UK retailers have all supported calls to develop a set of core standards or minimum product standards.

This includes the first Trade and Agriculture Commission, the Climate Change Committee, the National Food Strategy, and the International Trade, Environment Food and Rural Affairs, and International Agreements Committees.

It goes on to say that, importantly, it has been shown that these standards can be designed in ways that ‘avoid blocking progress on future trade deals and are widely supported by voters.’

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Posted in Agriculture, Blogs.