The NFU’s campaign for the setting up of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to address the challenges of safeguarding the UK’s high food and farming standards looks to have met its prime objective.
Following intense lobbying by the NFU on behalf of the British farming industry, the government has agreed in principle to set up the Commission which will be tasked with scrutinising and making recommendations on future trade deals.
NFU President, Minette Batters (pictured above), welcomed the announcement, saying it was ‘a hugely important development’. The move comes after an NFU petition launched in February attracted more than one million signatures (see our blog post of 22 June) and 80,000 people emailed their MPs asking for the Commission to be established.
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said: “I wholeheartedly agree that any trade deal the UK strikes must be fair and reciprocal to our farmers, and must not compromise on our high standards of food safety and animal welfare. I have been very clear on both these points and will continue to fight for the interests of our farming industry in any and all trade agreements we negotiate.”
Well, time will tell.
The Commission’s terms of reference will need to be agreed and it remains to be seen (a) how quickly the Commission can be established and (b) as a purely advisory body, whether or not it will have the teeth to exert real influence over government decisions and policy.
In the meantime, trade talks with the USA and various other countries continue apace and, whilst the NFU is committed to scrutinising the process of these ongoing negotiations, the protection of our industry from imports of lower standard food, irrespective of any recommendations made by the new Commission and the demands of the UK farming industry, is far from a done deal. In short, watch this space!