Gove vows to protect high farming standards as part of a Green Brexit

Environment Secretary Michael Gove welcomed the National Farmers’ Union president’s vision for industry and Government to work together to maintain the high standards of British food in post-Brexit trade.

Speaking at the NFU Conference today, Michael Gove reaffirmed that the UK’s high standards will not be compromised “in pursuit of trade deals” and will look to work with the sector to enhance standards even further.

This includes working with the NFU to build a consensus around how to uphold high standards on the environment, food safety and animal welfare outside the EU.

Ahead of a Government announcement later this month on tariffs in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, the Environment Secretary will also say that the needs of British farmers and food producers will be taken into account to minimise the risk of being left at a “competitive disadvantage”.

He also pledged to “use the tools” at the Government’s disposal to make sure standards and the sector are protected.

Key commitments

Addressing NFU members in Birmingham today, the Environment Secretary also addressed the challenges for the industry in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including the significant impact on upland farmers and the trade in sheep meat and beef.

He set out how the disruption caused by no-deal will impact small businesses the most, and set out what the Government is doing to mitigate the impact of leaving without a deal.

Gove also reiterated his support for the Brexit deal, which already holds out the prospect of tariff and quota-free access to the European market, with the flexibility to operate wholly outside of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and avoid the disruption of a no deal.

He also praised the ‘Februdairy’ initiative for highlighting the important work of British livestock and dairy farmers and highlight the importance of high-quality meat, milk and cheese in a healthy diet.

He said he “would not shy” from defending British livestock and dairy farmers from activists who would undermine their work.

Also Read: Calls for new trade and food panel to uphold British agri-food standards

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Already, the Agriculture Bill creates new powers to improve the functioning of the supply chain, support farmers through volatile times, safeguard producer organisations and guarantee new sources of income for future business.

“And we are in discussion about how to go further to support sustainable food production and protect our high standards in a competitive trading environment.

“We have been clear that we will not lower our standards in pursuit of trade deals, and that we will use the tools we have at our disposal – tariffs, quotas and legislation – to make sure standards are protected and you are not left at a competitive disadvantage.

“That is why I welcome Minette’s call to establish a Commission to examine how we can maintain high standards. This is an idea which has a number of merits and we will be giving it full consideration.”