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Villiers backtracks on Gove’s promise to set up commission to protect food standards

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers has backtracked on her predecessor’s cast-iron guarantee to set up a Trade and Food Commission to protect standards after Brexit.

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Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers
Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers
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Villiers backtracks on Gove’s promise to set up commission to protect food standards

NFU president Minette Batters told Farmers Guardian Ms Villiers had shown ‘no commitment’ to move forward with the plans.

 

The union had hoped the commission, made up of food and farming experts, would make recommendations on how future food trade policy should be formulated and produce a report before the end of 2019.

 

But since July, when Mr Gove left Defra, progress has stalled.

 

Ms Batters said: “We fought so hard on the Trade and Standards Commission, Michael Gove wrote to me and committed to do it, then he left that position.


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“Since then, it has gone nowhere. I have asked Theresa Villiers about it and she has shown no commitment to put what he had agreed in place, so we are no further on with the commission on standards.”

 

In their election manifesto, the Conservatives promised to ‘raise’ animal welfare, agriculture and environmental standards, while negotiating trade deals with the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan in the next three years.

 

As of December 4, the Tories were maintaining their lead in the polls, at an average of 10 points ahead of Labour.

 

Extraordinary

 

“We are going into this with the most extraordinary dynamics of Boris Johnson talking about higher standards here and potentially having a trading relationship with the US,” said Ms Batters.

 

“Using poultry as an example, the US has no legislation on stocking density or anything else. That just looks like the worst of all evils.”

 

The NFU president also expressed her concern at Trade Secretary Liz Truss’ failure to meet the union in the six months she has been in post.

 

Trying

 

“We have been trying to get a meeting with Liz Truss ever since she has been in office,” she said.

 

“I was due to meet her, but then they went into purdah [the pre-election period] and they cancelled the meeting.

 

“We are getting Boris Johnson talking about higher standards, but the Department for International Trade is silent in this area.”

 

Farmers Guardian has approached Theresa Villiers’ spokesman for comment.

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