The National Pig Assocation (NPA) has written to Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom to seek assurances that cheap food will not be prioritised over welfare standards in Brexit talks.
The letter outlines the NPA’s concerns about the potential threat to UK production from cheap, lower welfare imports.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is known to favour trade liberalisation, but this could be a problem for the pig industry as EU tariffs currently add £45 per 100kg to the cost of pig carcase imports. Any reduction in those tariffs could see a significant increase in the amount of pigmeat which is imported.
“Countries like the US, Canada and Brazil are able to produce pigmeat at a much lower cost because they have lower animal welfare and environmental standards”, said NPA policy services manager Lizzie Wilson.
“We do not want to see UK consumers exposed to pigmeat produced to lower standards and we certainly do not want our producers to face unfair import competition."
Farming Minister George Eustice told the Conservative Party Conference this week there are ‘well-established mechanisms’ to allow the Government to prevent the UK being flooded with cheap food imports.
He added: “It is a manifesto commitment for us to reflect animal welfare standards in trade negotiations. Producers who want to import will have to match our standards. If we are unable to reach agreement, tariff rate quotas will apply.”
But those reassurances were not enough for Mrs Wilson, who hit back: “We noted Mr Eustice’s comments about negotiating common standards into trade deals, but he knows as well as we do that bringing welfare into these deals will not be straightforward.”