National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters has said that the government has "missed the opportunity" in regards to its free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia.
She said: “As the first deal to be struck under our new independent trade policy, this FTA provided a chance to set the standard for future deals which incentivise trade in food produced to higher environmental and animal welfare standards.
“However, it is clear from this report that the UK government has missed the opportunity to reach a genuinely innovative and world-class FTA with Australia.
“While it is reassuring that this deal will not result in a change in production standards here – for instance, imports of hormone-reared beef will still be banned – the report confirms that this FTA simply opens up UK agricultural markets for Australian produce, whether or not produced to the same standards that are legally required of UK farmers.
“This deal will pave the way for others to follow and I’m increasingly concerned about the cumulative impact of the government’s FTA programme, especially as its own impact assessments anticipate a negative economic impact on UK farmers.
“It’s vital that the government provides a clear programme of policies and investment to help UK farming get ‘match ready’ for this new, tougher trading environment.
"We also need to see government working with farmers to develop a set of core environmental and animal welfare standards which it can seek to safeguard through forthcoming FTAs, as well as in its general import policy under its current WTO commitments.
“I would like to thank the Trade and Agriculture Commission for producing such a detailed report which will no doubt be useful to Parliamentary select committees as they themselves scrutinise this FTA.”