A farmer has set out three ways he believes the UK Government can protect food production standards without banning low standard imports.
Tom Clarke, who farms in the Cambridgeshire Fens and sits on the NFU’s sugar board, said farm leaders had ‘raised expectations’ that an import ban could be achieved even though it would be ‘impractical, illegal, and probably doomed to fail’.
Writing for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit Hub, Mr Clarke claimed the amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would have banned low standard imports in future trade deals would break World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and warned the UK was a not a big enough market to demand unilateral compliance with its regulations.
But he went on to suggest Ministers could introduce ‘punitive production labelling’, VAT on non-Red Tractor ingredients and a new carbon duty to level the playing field.
“Like the pukey, khaki fag packets forced on tobacco, packaging for food produced below Red Tractor standard should be deliberately off-putting,” said Mr Clarke.
“Take bacon as an excellent example. Grimy coloured packets showing graphic photographs of the production system in all its glory, such as sow crates and concrete slats, should become law.
“Meanwhile, bacon from Red Tractor standard pigs – from whatever nation – could be any colour and design.”
Mr Clarke also suggested levying VAT on all food items containing non-Red Tractor ingredients from anywhere in the world, hiking the price of such products by 20 per cent.
On carbon taxing, he claimed British and Irish beef, which has a carbon footprint 2.5 times lower than the world average, would escape any new duty, while Brazilian and US beef would not.
Derrick Wilkinson, a consultant economist and trade policy specialist, said the idea of a border carbon tax may have some merit, but it would be very complicated and time consuming to introduce.
“As I have been saying all along with Brexit and this issue in particular, a close understanding of the relevant trade rules is needed to develop viable solutions to the very real problems the industry faces,” he added.
To read Mr Clarke’s article in full, visit fginsight.com/brexit-hub