Brexit and Trade

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As the UK builds a future outside of the European Union it will create new policies that have huge implications for people, the environment and the food we produce and eat.

Sustain is campaigning to ensure that our leaders uphold good standards in the UK as these benefit people and the planet, at home and overseas.

We focus on protecting existing high food, farming and fishing standards, advocating for improvements and reflecting the concerns of concerned citizens, independent or a smaller producers and those experiencing disadvantage.

The UK will end its transition period with the EU on the 1 January 2021. In preparation, the UK Government has transferred many EU laws onto UK statute books and has been working on the Agriculture, Environment, Fisheries and Trade Bills to create new legislation.

Sustain has been advocating for high food and farming standards to be written into law, but unfortunately the Government has rejected this, leaving them open for discussion in trade deals. Furthermore, the laws transferred across from the EU have been put into secondary legislation and can be changed without being put to a parliamentary vote. Antibiotics legislation has already been weakened this way.

Following intense lobbying from Sustain, the NFU, Greener UK, Jamie Oliver, amongst others and along with millions of consumers, the Government has created a new Trade and Agriculture Commission, which will now be put onto a statutory footing and report directly to parliament on the impact of trade deals on food and farming. However, this Commission currently has no environmental, animal welfare, consumer or public health representative on its board and its scope may be too narrow. We need these to change if we are to consider the full impact of post-Brexit trade deals.

2.65 million consumers signed petitions and 260k people wrote to their MP calling for food and farming standards to be written into law.

The US has more than three times as many approved pesticides as the UK, Australia more than two and a half times.

Antibiotic use on US farms is five times the amount as in the UK. In Australia the use of antibiotics in poultry is more than 20 times higher than in the UK, and use per animal in pigs is over twice as high as in the UK.

UK farmers export 60% of their produce to our neighbours in the EU.

“Survey after survey shows the public want to maintain the food standards they enjoy. The Government has repeatedly promised the public that they will not compromise on environmental, animal welfare or food standards. Yet they remain reluctant to legislate to keep them off the table in trade talks. The Government needs to send much stronger signals to trade partners that it will only trade in the high standard produce that UK consumers want to see on their plates.”
Orla Delargy, Sustain Head of Public Affairs

What we're fighting for today

For the Government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission to have environmental, animal welfare, consumer and public health representatives.

Full impact assessments for each deal to be laid in parliament, including the possible impact of trade on public health

Transparency on and parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, and the right of parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed

Our campaigns:

The Food and Farming Policy campaign put agro-ecological farming, procurement, land-use and sustainable diets on the agenda of decision-makers at local and national level.

950 million meals served by caterers committing to sustainable fish in 2019 thanks to Sustainable Fish Cities.

Our Campaign for a Better Food Britain aims to help everyone enjoy food that is good for our health, produced in a way that supports good livelihoods, reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions, whilst promoting high animal welfare and restoration of nature.


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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.

© Sustain 2021
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