Making free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand and the United States may be near the top of the UK Government’ priority list but such deals offer few opportunities for Scottish farmers.
And they could have an undermining effect on production standards, NFU Scotland claimed.
The post- Brexit priority should instead be on making trade arrangements with the EU.
Responding to a UK consultation on free trade NFUS president Andrew McCornick said: “If the Brexit referendum decision is interpreted as ‘taking back control’ then it is critical the UK Government does not follow up Brexit by undermining our own domestic standards in a rush to sign unnecessary trade deals with countries which produce a number of products to lower standards than would be accepted in the UK.
“The UK Government has cited Brexit as a clear opportunity to highlight the UK’s strong environmental and animal health credentials of our food production.
"However, this would be an empty gesture if the UK Government allowed increased imports of foods from countries where we are unable to directly legislate any changes to production standards.
“That would be equivalent to exporting our precious welfare and environmental standards overseas.”
Mr McCornick also warned trade agreements with Australia, NZ and the US could impact on Scotland’s ability to trade freely with the European Union.
In 2016, the UK food and drink exports to the EU were £9.9 billion while non-EU exports were £4 billion, highlighting that more than 70% of UK food and drink exports are dependent on frictionless access to the European single market.
This includes over 90% of beef exports, 75% of pig meat exports and 88% of sheep meat exports.
“If they (the government) believe that Australia, New Zealand and the United States are the correct markets then I strongly suggest they go back to the drawing board,” Mr McCornick said.