NFU president Minette Batters has urged the government to commit to introducing a food standards commission that scrutinises future trade deals and safeguards British farming’s place as a global leader in climate-friendly food.
Mrs Batters made the call to Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers as part of a panel session at the Oxford Farming Conference, where she reiterated that the NFU will never accept British farmers being put out of business because of a trade deal that allows imports of food that would be illegal for farmers to produce in the UK.
A new food standards commission must be a fundamental part of how the government approaches trade deals and backed by legislation in the Agriculture Bill, Mrs Batters said. Its primary purpose needs to be the ability to scrutinise proposals in trade deals and make recommendations on the UK’s future food trade policy to ensure that UK farming’s high production standards won’t be undermined, with a requirement for the government to act on these recommendations.
Mrs Batters said: “This year will be the greatest reset for our food and farming system since the 1940s and the decisions made by this government will be felt for decades to come. We must once again recognise that there is nothing more important to our economy, our health and our environment than the very food we eat.
“One year ago, I declared that British farming could achieve net zero by 2040. The defining factor to reach that goal and help tackle climate change is a willing government. We are already leading the way in producing climate-friendly food in this country and this government has a chance to enshrine the UK as global leader in sustainability.”