In a striking joint letter, farming groups, and environmental campaigners, including the Sustain alliance, have called on PM Boris Johnson to protect food and farming standards in law after Brexit.
In a joint letter, the 60 co-signatories (including Sustain and several of our alliance members) acknowledged differences on how to achieve a sustainable, carbon neutral model of farming, but said they were all agreed that Brexit provided an opportunity to do so and that "Without the right domestic policy, supported by a progressive and ambitious trade policy, none of us will realise this shared vision."
The letter, sent at the weekend and covered by The Daily Telegraph, said that “Brexit can be a catalyst for UK farming not just to be the envy of the world, but to provide gold-standard model for high standard, high quality, sustainable food production.”
Read the letter in full below:
We are writing to you as a broad coalition of major farming, environment, animal welfare and public health organisations who share and support your government’s stated commitment to ensuring the environmental, animal welfare and safety standards of UK food production are not undermined after we leave the EU and develop our own independent trade policy.
We are all agreed that Brexit provides the opportunity to foster a sustainable, carbon neutral model of farming in the UK building on our reputation for high quality, safe and affordable food. There may be differences of opinion as to the best way of achieving that vision, but we are all agreed that without the right domestic policy, supported by a progressive and ambitious trade policy, none of us will realise this shared vision.
You have pledged “not to in any way prejudice or jeopardise our standards of animal welfare or food hygiene”, and the Secretary of State for Defra recently promised to “defend our national interests and our values, including our high standards of animal welfare.” Along with your party’s manifesto commitment that, “in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards,” we are increasingly reassured that you are as committed as us to making the UK a world leader in food, farming and environmental standards.
However, we also recognise that this is a complex issue that goes beyond just the negotiating position of the UK government in any potential trade deals, and that there will be intense pressure on British negotiators to make significant concessions on this issue. Furthermore, as an independent member of the WTO the UK will also need to consider how it manages its trading relationships outside the terms of bilateral trade deals. In light of this, we urge you to take some specific actions we believe will enable you to ensure that the UK government can achieve its commitment to safeguard the standards of UK production, now and in the future:
With the enactment of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and our formal departure from the EU just days away, we believe these measures must be pursued as a priority. We believe that with the right policy framework and the establishment of a clear understanding of our shared vision for the future, Brexit can be a catalyst for UK farming not just to be the envy of the world, but to provide gold-standard model for high standard, high quality, sustainable food production. We would welcome the chance for a delegation of the signatories to this letter to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss how we can work in partnership to achieve this vision.
Mark Williams – CEO, British Egg Industry Council (BEIC)
Food and Farming Policy
Food and Farming Policy: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.
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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.