The NFU and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have joined forces to push for environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards to be protected after Brexit.
In a joint letter to Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers, the two groups said there was ‘no good reason’ for the Government not to write such protection into law, given the many verbal promises successive Ministers have made over the past three years.
NFU president Minette Batters and FoE chief executive Craig Bennett welcomed Ms Villiers’ recent pledge to keep chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef out of the country in the event a US-UK trade deal is signed.
But the letter went on to read: “It is vital this approach extends beyond just the specific commitments on chicken and beef, and safeguards high environmental, welfare and food safety standards across all farm produce.
“We recognise this is a complex pledge to secure, and one which ought to extend beyond specific trade negotiations to our wider trade policy and obligations as an independent member of the World Trade Organisation.”
Ms Batters and Mr Bennet also pushed for the Government to establish a ‘formal forum’ for industry bodies to ‘engage intensively’ on matters of post-Brexit trade.
The demand comes shortly after Ms Villiers backtracked on her predecessor, Michael Gove’s, promise to set up a Trade and Food Commission.
At Oxford Farming Conference earlier this month, the Secretary of State would not commit to establish a commission, instead saying officials were still deciding whether existing ‘working groups’ could be used instead.
A Government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards post-Brexit.
“The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any future trade deals live up to the values of farmers and consumers across the UK.”