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Fears over post-Brexit food standards as Ministers continue to disagree

There is still huge disagreement on the setting of food and farming standards as the UK gears up to leave the EU. 

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Fears over post-Brexit food standards as Ministers continue to disagree

The setting of food and farming standards will be absolutely critical in a post-Brexit world.

 

Everyone at the Oxford Farming Conference agreed on that but there is massive disagreement about how these standards will be set.

 

Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner had noted than within days of President Trump saying the UK would have to change its standards if there was to be a transatlantic trade deal, EU negotiator Michel Barnier had responded by saying that the UK would need to align with the EU standards if there was to be a cross-channel trade deal.


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Mr Gardiner said: “At the same time Liam Fox is saying we can use the US default level handbook which allows much lower standards.

 

“The danger is that Michael Gove might not allow UK standards to slip but allow in US products that have allowances for minimum levels of rat hair or rat droppings.

 

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“The UK and EU level for both is zero. The problem is that Liam Fox sees labelling as trade distorting. Such an approach would put people here out of work and I will not have that.”

 

His fear is that the government would use the so-called Henry VIII powers to be used to set food standards rather than allow parliament to decide.

 

Farm Minster George Eustice, who was sharing the stage with Mr Gardiner, insisted that Henry VIII powers could not be used in this way – although they could be used to retain EU laws any trade deal seen as unacceptable could effectively be blocked by parliament.

“We have to insist that the standards are not lower than ours,” Mr Eustice said.

 

New Zealand politician, farmer and seasoned global trade negotiator Sir Lockwood Smith thought the UK industry had an unhelpful pre-occupation with standards.

 

It had taken the focus off the big prize of increasing global trade.

 

He said: “The NZ wine industry has soared not because of legislative standards but because it has massively and unilaterally increased quality since the days of protected agriculture when there was a 40 per cent tariff to protect our home market.”

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