Industry organisations representing a wide range of interests have joined the launch of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission to discuss how they can support it.
The commission was announced by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss at the end of June, following strong industry lobbying, led by NFU president Minette Batters. Chaired by Tim Smith, former head of the Food Standards Agency, its task is to advise on future trade deals, including ensuring that animal welfare and environmental standards in are not undermined.
Some organisations, including RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association, have claimed their interests were under-represented. But at a launch event in Whitehall today (July 28), attendees included RSPCA, the National Sheep Association, the British Veterinary Association, Initiative for Free Trade, Tesco and AHDB, in addition to the commission’s chair and members.
Ms Truss, said: “We’re stepping up our engagement with all the groups who have an interest in Britain’s agriculture trade policy. The Trade and Agriculture Commission will ensure the voices of the public and industry are heard, and that their interests are advanced and protected.
“It will advise the government on how Britain can remain a world-leader in animal welfare and environmental standards, and how we can seize new export opportunities for our farmers.
“This is about putting British farming at the heart of our trade policy and ensuring that our agriculture industry is amongst the most competitive and innovative in the world.”
Defra Secretary George Eustice, said: “The Government is committed that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environment protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.”
Mr Smith, said: “The Commission has an engaged, passionate membership who share my commitment to providing the Government with robust, evidence-based advice on ensuring that trade policy is fair for consumers, farmers and producers.”
The Trade and Agriculture Commission, which met for the first time on July 24, was established to bring together stakeholders across the industry to advise on:
- Trade policies the Government should adopt to secure opportunities for UK farmers, while ensuring the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined.
- Advancing and protecting British consumer interests and those of developing countries.
- How the UK engages the WTO to build a coalition that helps advance higher animal welfare standards across the world.
- Developing trade policy that identifies and opens up new export opportunities for the UK agricultural industry – in particular for SMEs – and that benefits the UK economy as a whole.
At this first meeting they discussed the detailed aims and scope of the Commission, the ways of working and terms of engagement needed for success and a provisional timetable and structure of working groups
The Commission reports directly to International Trade Secretary and it will produce an advisory report at the end of its six months’ work.
Its members are:
- Non-Executive Director Cranswick plc and Pret a Manger- Tim Smith (Chair)
- NFU England – Nick von Westenholz
- NFU Scotland – Andrew McCornick
- NFU Cymru – John Davies
- Ulster Farmers Union – Victor Chestnutt
- The Farmers Union of Wales – Glyn Roberts
- Lamb Farmer – Rob Hodgkins
- Competere – Shanker Singham
- Former Chief Veterinary Officer – Nigel Gibbens
- British Retail Consortium – Andrew Opie
- Trade Out Of Poverty – Tom Pengelly
- Former Trade Minister and Agriculture Minister for New Zealand – Sir Lockwood Smith
- UKHospitality – Kate Nicholls
- Food and Drink Federation – Ian Wright CBE
- LEAF – Caroline Drummond