Farm leaders have hit back at a push from the US Government for the UK to drop its food production standards after Brexit.
British farming groups were responding to the publication of American negotiating objectives for a future UK-US trade deal.
They include demands for the UK to lower or eliminate agricultural tariffs, adopt ‘international standards’ on products such as hormone-treated beef and remove ‘unjustified trade restrictions’ which affect technologies such as genetic modification or gene editing.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “It comes as no surprise that the USA is seeking comprehensive access to the UK’s agricultural market and is pushing for a trade deal which accepts US production standards and practices.
“It is imperative that any future trade deals do not allow the import of food produced to lower standards than those required of British farmers.”
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of food and farming alliance Sustain, told Farmers Guardian the objectives were ‘confirmation the US wants to send us chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated, mechanically-recovered pink slime beef’.
The US objectives for agriculture in a US-UK trade deal are exactly the same as those published for a possible US-EU deal in January 2019.
Two years ago, President Trump pulled out of negotiations on the US-EU trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but talks have since been resurrected.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has said any future deal would not include agriculture, only industrial goods, but the US has not agreed to these terms and is unlikely to with such an influential farming lobby.
US agribusiness donates millions of dollars directly to hundreds of congressional candidates who define the US’ negotiating objectives and can refuse to ratify trade deals.
Together, Mike Conaway, chair of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, and Pat Roberts, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, received more than $1 million (£770,300) in campaign donations from agribusiness in the 2017-2018 election cycle.
The two committees are responsible for regulating agricultural commodities and oversight of trade policy.