In the first instance, I should like to reassure you as to my commitment to farmers in South Leicestershire and the wider country – I absolutely recognise the tremendous work farmers do, and appreciate the difficulties of their job at the very best of times, notwithstanding the further complexities caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
I fully understand the widespread concerns over any compromising of Britain’s world-leading food standards, and, as such, I am grateful for the opportunity to reassure you that this will not the case, irrespective of certain amendments to the Agriculture Bill not being passed.
I have raised this matter with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs directly on behalf of farmers in South Leicestershire, and both he and the Government have been quite clear that in all trade negotiations, our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards will not be compromised. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.
On this, it is important to note that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses. Therefore, any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before Parliament.
Further, please do be assured that the Government will continue to engage with farmers and all aspects of the agricultural sector, including the National Farmers Union, as part of any trade discussions, to ensure our future trade agreements deliver for our brilliant farmers and food producers both in South Leicestershire and the wider country.