Representatives from the farming, veterinary and animal medicine sectors have welcomed the Government’s decision to introduce a Trade and Agriculture Commission.
The commission, finally announced yesterday by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, after months of intense lobbying by the NFU, driven by its president Minette Batters, will consider the policies that the UK Government should adopt in free trade agreements to make sure UK animal welfare and production standards are not undermined.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “This is a very important step forward and a sign that the Government is at least recognising that there must be some external scrutiny of future trade deals to ensure they do not damage primary producers.
“It is also a reflection of the persistence and hard work of the NFU and others who have been pushing so hard for a commission.
“While the extra scrutiny is welcome, we will continue to make our voice heard loud and clear on this critical issue for the pig sector. We are with the NFU and others in insisting that future trade deals must not permit imports of food products produced to standards not permitted in the UK that would have a hugely damaging impact on domestic pig producers.”
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the announcement from Trade Secretary Liz Truss that a new Trade and Agriculture Commission will be established.
BVA senior vice president Simon Doherty said veterinary expertise must be at the heart of the new body’s remit.
“The veterinary profession has always been clear that any new trade agreements must not undermine the UK’s high animal health and welfare standards. Along with our colleagues in the farming industry we have been pushing for this commitment to be enshrined in legislation.
“We welcome the new Trade and Agriculture Commission but it is essential that veterinary expertise is at the heart of its membership and remit. Vets are critical to facilitating international trade and are committed to protecting and enhancing animal health and welfare and public health.
“Although the Commission only has an advisory role it is important that its advice is genuinely listened to and acted on by the Government. There is huge public concern about a lowering of animal welfare standards and consumers need to have confidence in what they are buying.”
NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard said: “As we have outlined in our Vision for UK Animal Health and Welfare, high standards of animal health are an integral part of excellent animal welfare and food standards, something that British consumers expect and support.
“This move is a positive development: not only with the potential to deliver benefits in terms of animal welfare in the UK and beyond but to also support raising productivity, improved sustainability and resilience of UK farms – helping them to capitalise on opportunities for trading internationally and strengthening our food security.
“We look forward to supporting the Commission in matters relating to animal health,” she said.