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Following a petition to protect British farmers from low-quality food imports post-Brexit, the new Trade and Agriculture Commission has been officially launched.
It comes as the Government tries to better engage the public and industry stakeholders in decisions about the UK’s trade policy.
International trade secretary Liz Truss formally established the commission on 28th July after meeting with animal welfare, consumer and environmental groups to call on their expertise. The members will offer support and advice on various topics, including trade policies that would secure opportunities for UK farmers while maintaining a competitive sector with high animal welfare and environmental standards; advancing and protecting British consumer interests as well as those of developing countries; and identifying policies to open up new export opportunities for the UK’s agricultural industry.
The commission will also publish an advisory report at the end of its six months’ work that will consider various aspects such as consumer interests, free trade agreement, a WTO coalition and export opportunities.
Speaking about the new commission, Chair of the Agriculture and Trade Commission, Tim Smith, said: “The Commission has an engaged, passionate membership who share my commitment to providing the Government with robust, evidence-based advice on ensuring that trade policy is fair for consumers, farmers and producers.
“This is a critical moment in time for UK farmers and food producers. There is a real appetite for growth and for seizing new opportunities. For consumers, who we will place at the centre of our work, there is an opportunity to build trust in our existing world-class standards and to demonstrate the value of those standards to the global market.”
This is no doubt a welcome step for those in the industry, particularly the NFU, which first called for the commission over 18 months ago. It follows months of campaigning by NFU as well as farmers and other agricultural unions, who fought to protect British food standards that looked to be at risk amidst ongoing Brexit negotiations.
It’s hoped the new commission will now allow the industry and Government to support each other, giving those in the industry the opportunity to offer recommendations that will uphold the UK’s high standard of farming and food production, whilst offering new opportunities for international export to establish the UK’s agriculture sector among the most competitive and innovative in the world.
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