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UK to adopt EU standards post-Brexit - Defra Minister

6th Sep 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The UK will take on all EU food safety, environmental and animal welfare standards on leaving the EU, Defra Minister Lord Gardiner said in the House of Lords on Thursday.

Lord GardinerNPA senior policy Ed Barker said the announcement had significant implications for the pig sector, give the long-running concerns over the threat of cheaper imports, produced to lower standards, after we leave the EU. 

Ed said: “This would confirm that a non-EU pork exporter to the UK would have to adhere to EU's rules on demonstrating 'ractopamine free' pork exports.”

Ractopamine is a beta-agonist, which promotes leanness in animals raised for meat, and is banned by many countries, including China. it is theoretically legal to use in US, although ed said the NPA understands that not a lot of US pork is produced with ractopamine.

But he added: “Needless to say, the US don't like the EU's ban”

The US Government has complained that ‘US producers cannot export meat or meat products to the EU unless they participate in a costly and burdensome process verification program to ensure that hormones, beta agonists, or other growth promotants have not been used in their production’.

Ed added: “Today’s announcement means that in order to export to the UK they will have to continue this. But this is not without risk...

“The UK Government's tariffs in the event of a no deal treats all countries the same (approximately 5% tariffs on pork imports), meaning US exporters have massive competitive advantage (the US have a cost of production 30-40% lower than EU's).

“They are likely to be able to absorb the costs of testing for ractopamine and add shipping, and still make a healthy profit at the expense of EU and UK producers - who are banned from doing a number of practices still permitted in the US.

‘These cannot be used as barriers at WTO level as they are welfare related, for example, use of porcine plasma and sow stalls. This Defra announcement, although welcome, by no means protects the UK pig industry that would also be facing a near total halt to EU exports in the event of a no deal.”

Ed also pointed out on Twitter that there were rumours that the Government was going to review its no deal tariffs proposals, with a view to raising them as a way of exerting leverage on the EU.

“Personally I would be happier to see TRQs based upon historic usage to overcome carcase balance issue and not see our product subject to unsustainable price spikes,” he said.