The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has hailed the government’s decision to enhance the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission as an important step forward.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said:

"It’s taken a long time, but the TFA is delighted that the government has accepted the arguments that have been made by farmers, environmentalists, public health professionals and representatives from animal welfare organisations.

It would be unsustainable to enforce high standards on our domestic food production whilst allowing them to be undermined by giving access to low standard imports under international trade deals.

The enhanced role for the Trade and Agriculture Commission will be brought into effect by a government amendment to the Trade Bill with accompanying measures in the Agriculture Bill which is in its final Parliamentary stages.

However, the details of these changes are yet to be made available.

Enhanced role of the TAC

Dunn continued:

"We need to make sure that the detail of the enhanced role and remit for the Commission matches the new direction of policy announced by government.

We are hopeful that the legislative provisions will meet our expectations and that the Trade and Agriculture Commission will be given the teeth it needs to hold the government to account on its trade policy.

"It must be given full access to scrutinise proposed trade deals and to be involved early in the process of discussions with other countries.

"A proper framework for how any recommendations made by the Commission will be considered ill also need to be clear," said Dunn.

"A lot will depend on how the new arrangements will operate in practice and to what extent the government properly listens to the advice and recommendations made by the Commission.

"We will be watching this carefully as the government begins to implement our independent trade policy following the end of our transitional arrangements for withdrawing from the EU at the end of next month.

It would also be good to see the UK using the expertise of the Commission to play a leading role within the World Trade Organisation.

"This would ensure that issues around trade standards are given greater credence within a body which has hitherto focused narrowly only on the promotion of free trade," concluded Dunn.