Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Brexit fears of EU threats on UK farmers dismantled by Eustice ‘We have power to stop it!’

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British farmers have expressed their deep worries that imports of foods and food stuffs from countries with lower animal welfare standards will be allowed post-EU. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is strongly advising the UK Government to set up a commission to handle their Brexit concerns. Environment Secretary George Eustice assured ITV’s Peston that there is a prohibition of sales of lower standard products that threaten to compete with British farmers.

He said: “We have set up just a commission: the Trade and Agriculture Commission.

“It’s what the NFU asked for, though since then they’ve said they’d like it placed on a statutory footing.

“We don’t think that’s necessary, we’ve got a manifesto commitment.

“We have all the powers we need to prevent lower standard foods entering this country.”

Host Robert Peston demanded to know why the Government didn’t just legislate to ban food from countries with lower standards.

Mr Eustice insisted that such legislation already exists, pointing to a prohibition on the sale of meats treated with hormones.

The ITV journalist interjected again, warning that farmers wanted more because they “don’t have confidence” in what is already in place.

The Cabinet minister repeated that it would “literally not be possible” for someone to sell hormone-treated beef in this country.

He told Mr Peston: “What farmers really want is that they don’t want to be exposed to competition from countries that have lower animal welfare standards.

“We understand that, and that is why we have been very clear.

“We will use tariff policy in order to prevent imports coming in from countries with lower animal welfare standards.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to protect UK farmers, especially from US meat and food imports.

This comes as Britain seeks to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has already stated that an agreement cannot be reached unless America’s food standards demands are met.

Downing Street has rejected demands by Tory rebels and campaigners for tougher food standards rules in order to prevent a lowering for post-Brexit trade deals.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the UK will maintain food and welfare standards outside the EU and dismissed concerns about lowered food standards as “hysterical”.

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