I am delighted that the government has acted so swiftly to appoint members to the new Trade and Agriculture Commission which is to advise ministers on how to seize new export opportunities whilst ensuring animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined.
The new Commission represents farmers, retailers and consumers from across the UK and will be chaired by Tim Smith, former head of the Food Standards Agency.
My postbag has been full of letters from constituents rightly demanding high welfare produce and assurances that any new trade deals will meet those standards. I have been clear that I stood on a manifesto which stated that in all trade negotiations our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards will not be compromised. I know that the government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of North Yorkshire farmers and consumers. By forming this Commission, ministers can ensure close engagement with the agriculture industry to help inform, shape and guide agricultural trade policy.
The Yorkshire and Humber food and drink industry includes more than 1,100 food and drink producers employing around 55,000 people, many of whom are in North Yorkshire, with a combined turnover in excess of £8bn. The new Commission will advise on trade policy which will help boost food and drink exports.
Minette Batters, President of NFU England, said “Today’s announcement 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”.
List of Members
- 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
- Institute of Economics Affairs- 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