Farming Minister George Eustice has confirmed Britain will not relax rules on the use of animal growth hormones in beef farming after the UK leaves the European Union in an answer to a parliamentary question.
The EU has banned imports of beef produced with growth hormone ractopamine, but there were fears Britain would overturn the ban post-Brexit in a bid to secure free trade deals with countries such as America, where use of the hormone is widespread.
Chris Mallon, chief executive the National Beef Association, said: “The introduction of hormones would be a backward step and cause severe brand damage for British beef. We need to stay with our strengths which are production of a high-welfare, naturally-produced product free of stimulants.”
Upholding the ban would be good news for beef farmers exporting to the EU, as its legality in the UK would be likely to limit imports to a large extent, even without tariffs in place.
Mr Eustice also told Parliament he was working with authorities in the USA to lift restrictions on imports of British lamb, adding there was hope haggis could soon be exported there with a US-specific recipe which does not fall foul of America’s ban on the use of animal lungs as food.
But progress in these talks could be derailed by the Trump victory in the US presidential election.
At a rally in Iowa in August, Mr Trump accused Hillary Clinton of wanting to ‘shut down family farms just like the mines and the steelworks’.
Mr Trump has said he would reverse the industrial decline in America by erecting tariffs on imports and tearing up free trade agreements, so British food exports to the USA could be threatened by similar protectionist policies in the agricultural sector.