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Government announces membership of Trade and Agriculture Commission

The Government has announced who will sit on the Trade and Agriculture Commission, with all farming unions across the UK represented.

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss
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Government announces membership of Trade and Agriculture Commission

Retailers and consumer, hospitality, and environmental bodies also have members on the commission, but very few trade experts have been appointed.

 

Shanker Singham, a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, who is strongly opposed to attaching stringent animal welfare and environmental standards to imports, will sit on the panel, alongside New Zealand former Trade and Agriculture Minister Sir Lockwood Smith.

 

The commission will be chaired by food safety expert Tim Smith, a former chief executive of the FSA and Tesco group technical director.

 

Concerns have already been raised about the lack of ‘green voices’ on the Commission by influential environmental alliance Greener UK.


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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “My officials and I are working round the clock to ensure any trade deal we strike brings the very best opportunities to the UK’s farming community.

 

“We recognise the importance of engaging with the agriculture industry and seeking expert advice, which is why we have set up the Commission.

 

“Our high food and animal welfare standards will not be compromised.”

 

NFU president Minette Batters, who has been pushing for the Commission for 18 months, recently told Farmers Guardian she did not want to sit on the panel because the position should be taken by someone with the ‘time and technical expertise’ to do the job.

 

Brexit

 

The NFU will be represented by its Brexit and international trade director, Nick von Westenholz.

 

All the other farming unions are represented by their presidents, except the Ulster Farmers’ Union, which has appointed its deputy president, Victor Chestnutt.

 

Ms Batters said: “Today’s announcement is a hugely important development in our campaign to ensure UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals.

 

Broader

 

“It is, however, one part of a much broader challenge our farmers face in ensuring the UK’s trade policy delivers a prosperous and sustainable future for them.”

 

Sarah Williams of the Greener UK coalition raised concerns about the commission’s lack of power.

 

She said: “Without big improvements, this commission will be little more than a fig leaf for the Government’s continued failure to commit in law to banning sub-standard imports.

 

Transparency

 

“The body lacks the required transparency and powers to maintain standards in future trade deals and its membership raises serious questions over its ability to address environmental issues.

 

“Time is running out for Government to fulfil its promise of maintaining high food, environmental and animal welfare standards.”

 

The Commission will be set up for six months and submit an advisory report at the end of its work which will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade.

 

It will 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.

Full list of members

Ex-Tesco Tech Director/FSA - 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

Institute of Economics Affairs- Shanker Singham

Former Chief Veterinary Officer - Nigel Gibbens

British Retail Consortium - Andrew Opie

Former Trade Minister - Lord Price

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

Further industry reaction

Chair of the Agriculture and Trade Commission, Tim Smith:

 

“The trade decisions the Government is making now will shape the future not just of British food and farming, but the whole country, so it is important that the voices of industry and the British public are heard.

 

“This Commission will bring a clear-eyed perspective on what is fair and works for consumers, farmers, food producers and animals.

 

“I am delighted to chair it, and look forward to independently advising the Government on how trade policy can both protect and advance the interests of British farming and the UK as a whole.”

 

Andrew McCornick, president of NFU Scotland:

 

“As the UK sets its own trade policy this is a moment in time that will shape Scottish farming for generations to come.

 

“The Commission has the potential to set a roadmap for UK trade policy that will allow farming to grow and thrive across the UK by opening up new markets but also ensure that our production standards are front and centre of all new trade deals.

 

“For NFUS ensuring that production standards are taken into account in trade is absolutely critical.”

 

John Davies, president of NFU Cymru:

 

“We have consistently argued for the establishment of a trade and agriculture commission at what is a crucial time for British agriculture and as such we fully welcome today’s announcement by Secretary of State Truss.

 

“We are determined to play a full role within the commission in order to ensure UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals.”

 

Ivor Ferguson, President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU):

 

“The Government‘s recent announcement of the establishment of this Commission recognises the importance of addressing the challenges of protecting our world leading environmental, animal welfare and food production standards.

 

“The UFU now have direct involvement in this Commission to ensure that the dedication of Northern Ireland’s farmers, who take pride in upholding the UK’s high-production standards and producing quality food for the nation, is not undermined in future trade deals.”

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