The UK food and farming sector is strongly represented on the Government’s new Trade and Agriculture Commission, which will scrutinise future trade deals to ensure UK producers are not undermined.
Representatives from each of the four UK farming unions will sit on the commission, which will also include people representing retail, consumer, hospitality and environmental interests from across the UK.
The new new Commission, announced by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss last week, will be chaired by ex-Tesco director and former head of the Food Standards Agency, Tim Smith.
Established prolonged lobbying led by NFU president Minette Batters, it will advise Government on ‘how to seize new export opportunities, while ensuring animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined’.
The full list of members announced today is:
- 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
The Government has also announced more details of its remit:
- Trade policies the Government should adopt to secure opportunities for UK farmers, while ensuring the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined.
- Advancing and protecting British consumer interests and those of developing countries.
- How the UK engages the WTO to build a coalition that helps advance higher animal welfare standards across the world.
- Developing trade policy that identifies and opens up new export opportunities for the UK agricultural industry – in particular for SMEs – and that benefits the UK economy as a whole.
The scope of the Commission was agreed after close consultation between farming unions, the Department for International Trade and Defra. It will be set up for six months and submit an advisory report at the end of its work which will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade.
Ms Truss, said the UK’s ‘high food and animal welfare standards won’t be compromised in future trade deals. She said: “My officials and I are working round the clock to ensure that any trade deal we strike brings the very best opportunities to the UK’s farming community.
“We recognise the importance of engaging with the agriculture industry and seeking expert advice, which is why we have set up the Commission. We are putting British farming first and giving our producers the best opportunity to export their world class food abroad and grow their businesses.”
Mr Eustice said: “We have been consistently clear that we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards in all of our trade negotiations.
“The Agriculture and Trade Commission will ensure that the UK’s agricultural industry, our support for farmers and our commitment to high welfare standards are maintained. This Government will work hard to ensure any future trade deals are in their best interests and will prioritise both food production and our world-leading environmental targets.”
Mr Smith said: “The trade decisions the Government is making now will shape the future not just of British food and farming, but the whole country, so it is important that the voices of industry and the British public are heard.
“This Commission will bring a clear-eyed perspective on what is fair and works for consumers, farmers, food producers and animals.”
Mrs Batters said the announcement was a ‘hugely important development in ensuring UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals’.
“She said the commission would underpin the challenge of ‘securing trade deals that work for UK farmers and consumers, as well as our farmed animals and our environment’.
““The independence of the Commission is paramount, as is its accountability to Parliament. The role of the independent Chair will be critical, and we look forward to working with him in the weeks ahead to ensure the Commission meets the expectations and ambitions of all the consumers, campaigners and farmers who have demonstrated over recent months how important this issue is.”
She said the commission must produce a detailed roadmap on farm to fork trade policy for Parliament so MPs can understand what is required to ensure UK farming’s high production standards are safeguarded in our international trade policy.
“The Commission must also be able to scrutinise the details of our current trade negotiations, and advise Parliament accordingly, and it should set out a long-term vision for UK leadership on the global stage in promoting sustainable and climate friendly models of food production across the world,” she added.
But the RSPCA, which is not represented, was unhappy with the make-up and strong industry representation of the commission. It said the lack of members from the animal welfare sector ‘sends warning signals that it is a ‘fig leaf’ which will fail to protect welfare standards’.