‘This is a landmark decision’ – NFU Scotland on Trade and Agriculture Commission

NFU Scotland (NFUS) has welcomed the announcement from the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, that the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) will be given a significantly greater role in determining the nation’s future trading agreements.

The landmark lobbying success for NFUS, alongside other UK farming unions and stakeholders, comes after months of pursuing changes to the Agriculture Bill as it makes its way through the parliamentary process at Westminster.

The announcement indicates that the TAC will be put on a statutory footing and will produce a report on each new free trade agreement, ahead of a 21-day parliamentary scrutiny process.

Crucially, those reports will examine the impacts on animal welfare and farming of each free trade deal the government seeks to establish after the end of the EU transition period on January 1, 2021.

NFUS understands the TAC will be put on a statutory footing in the Trade Bill and that the government has brought forward an amendment in the Agriculture Bill, with regards to reporting on animal welfare and farming and free trade agreements (FTAs).

‘This is a huge step forward’

NFUS president Andrew McCornick, a member of the TAC, said:

This is a huge step forward. There has been overwhelming public backing, celebrity endorsement and growing cross-party support for measures to be written in to legislation that recognise the outstanding standards met by the nation’s farmers and crofters.

“We also want to ensure any imports coming into the UK would meet the standards that are required of UK producers.

“That has been matched by a relentless lobbying effort seeking significantly greater governance and scrutiny of the nation’s trade negotiations as we enter a new era.

As a member of TAC, I viewed putting the commission on a statutory footing and strengthening its Terms of Reference as critical.

“This is a landmark decision. We will study the detail of the proposals and strive to ensure that the best interests of farming, food and drink and the public continue to be front and centre of any future trade deals,” he concluded.