New trade commission will protect the interests of farmers and consumers, says minister

International trade secretary and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss has launched a new Trade and Agric

International trade secretary and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss has launched a new Trade and Agriculture Commission to advise on government trade policy. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Norfolk MP and international trade minister Liz Truss will formally launch a new Trade and Agriculture Commission today which she says will ensure farming and consumer interests are “advanced and protected”.

The commission – comprising farming, retail, consumer and environmental bodies – was set up following industry campaigns demanding that Britain’s high food production standards must be safeguarded in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

One of its key responsibilities will be to advise on which trade policies the government should adopt to secure new export opportunities for UK farmers, while “ensuring the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined”.

READ MORE: Don’t allow trade deals to undermine our food standards, plead Norfolk farmersAt the launch event in Whitehall, Miss Truss will be joined by commission members and groups including the RSPCA, National Sheep Association, British Veterinary Association, Initiative for Free Trade, Tesco and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The commission reports directly to the international trade secretary, and will produce an advisory report at the end of its six months’ work.

Miss Truss, who also represents South West Norfolk said: “We’re stepping up our engagement with all the groups who have an interest in Britain’s agriculture trade policy. The Trade and Agriculture Commission will ensure the voices of the public and industry are heard, and that their interests are advanced and protected.

“It will advise the government on how Britain can remain a world-leader in animal welfare and environmental standards, and how we can seize new export opportunities for our farmers.

“This is about putting British farming at the heart of our trade policy and ensuring that our agriculture industry is amongst the most competitive and innovative in the world.”

READ MORE: Chlorinated chicken debate is a ‘distraction’ from real food import issues, says MPCommission chairman Tim Smith, non-executive director of food firms Cranswick and Pret a Manger, and former head of the Food Standards Agency, added: “The commission has an engaged, passionate membership who share my commitment to providing the government with robust, evidence-based advice on ensuring that trade policy is fair for consumers, farmers and producers.

“This is a critical moment in time for UK farmers and food producers. There is a real appetite for growth and for seizing new opportunities. For consumers, who we will place at the centre of our work, there is an opportunity to build trust in our existing world class standards and to demonstrate the value of those standards to the global market.”