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National Food Strategy sets out measures to protect UK food standards - NPA reaction

29th Jul 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The first part of Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy has set out the steps the Government should take to protect food standards under future trade deals.

National Food Strategy picIt says the Government should aspire to a ‘gold standard level of scrutiny’ when it comes to food standards as it formulates new trade deals. 

It concludes that the UK now has a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to decide what kind of trading nation it wants to be, addressing head on the concerns over the impact of potential trade deals with the likes of the US on UK food production standards, a huge issue for the NPA and the UK pig sector.

The report calls for the adoption of a statutory duty that would give Parliament the opportunity to properly scrutinise any new trade deals. It rejects the idea of legislation requiring imports to meet UK standards, but urges the Government to only cut tariffs on products which meet the UK’s ‘core standards’.

This would be achieved through ‘verification programmes’ enabling American farmers to sell non-hormone-treated beef to the UK, for example, or, in the case of pigs, potentially only ractopamine-free pork. Certification schemes should also be extended to environmental and climate protections where the impact is severe, for example, maintaining tariffs on beef reared on land recently cleared of rainforest, the report suggests.

Mr Dimbleby’s advisory panel comprises experts representing farming, alongside various industry, Government and environmental organisations and academics.

The first of two reports, published today, comes up with what it describes as ‘urgent recommendations to support this country through the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prepare for the end of the EU exit transition period on December 31, 2020’. A comprehensive plan for transforming the food system will follow in part two.

As well as future trading arrangements, the report's other core focus is addressing diet-related health issues, particularly in disadvantaged children.

"In the post-lockdown recession, many more families will struggle to feed themselves adequately. A Government that is serious about 'levelling up' must ensure that all children get the nutrition they need," the report said.

You can read more about the report in Pig World HERE

NPA reaction

NPA senior policy adviser Ed Barker said the report made a number of 'very positive' recommendations on the key themes of accessible and nutritious food, trade standards and food affordability.

"Pork is certainly well placed to deliver nutritional quality and affordability and we will be looking to see how we as an industry can better position ourselves to promote these benefits to consumers, in line with the aims of the report," he said. 

"We also very much welcome the report's stance on trade, which sends out a clear message to Government that close scrutiny of future trade deals is essential so we can ensure our standards of production are not undermined.

"We are pleased that Mr Dimbleby appears to recognise the specific issues concerning pig production, including the widespread use of sow stalls in the US. This is another clear indication of the strength of feeling on this issue. 

"We look forward to seeing the development of this strategy and will continue to feed into the process from the perspective of the British pig sector."