Cheap food policy must not take precedence over food security, NPA tells Leadsom
6th Oct 2016 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has written to Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom to lay out its Brexit priorities and seek assurances a cheap food agenda will not take priority over the need for the UK to build its self-sufficiency in food.
The association has prepared a Brexit briefing document outlining its position, potential solutions and how Government can help on trade, future farm support, animal health and welfare and the availability of labour.
While the NPA would welcome opportunities to further build UK export markets, it has warned Mrs Leadsom of the potential pitfalls associated with the sort free trade some prominent figures, including International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, are advocating.
If EU tariffs, which currently add £45 per 100kg to the cost of imports of pig carcases, were significantly reduced in new trade deals, the NPA fears this could open the doors to large volumes of lower standard, imported pigmeat.
NPA policy services manager Lizzie Wilson said: “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.
“We are absolutely adamant that the Government must not put a desire for cheap food ahead of the need to shore up the UK’s self-sufficiency in food, which has already declined alarmingly over the last few decades.
“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.”
The NPA has issued a press release, which can be viewed here
The NPA’s Brexit briefing can be viewed here
The NPA’s letter to Mrs Leadsom can be viewed here
The NPA is calling for equivalent standards of production, including animal welfare, to be negotiated into any new trade agreements and, if necessary, for UK pigmeat to be granted protected status to control the volume of tariff free imports allowed into the UK.
The NPA is also calling for new post-Brexit agricultural policies to support pig farmers in delivering public goods such as reducing antibiotic usage by improving animal health.
Mrs Wilson said: “We would like to see grant funding and some sort of tax relief available to help with reinvestment in new buildings, equipment and infrastructure.”
Other key messages to the Government in the NPA’s Brexit strategy include:
- Ensuring Defra dedicates the same resource and effort into keeping animal disease out as extending export markets, as ultimately the two are intrinsically linked
- Ensuring EU citizens wanting to work in the UK pig sector are not prevented from doing so because of complicated application processes or delays to visa processing
- Strengthening checks at major ports and increasing penalties for illegally imported products
- Ensuring the pig sector is included in any discussions on future welfare standards.
The NPA formulated its briefing document after its chairman Richard Lister attended a Defra Brexit stakeholder meeting on September 8
The NPA has also responded to comments made at the Conservative Party Conference by Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Farming Minister George Eustice about post-Brexit trade and raising animal welfare standards.