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Post-Brexit trade deals will protect region’s farmers, minister pledges

PUBLISHED: 19:03 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 September 2020

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is  negotiating for the UK after Brexit  Picture: Chris Bishop

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is negotiating for the UK after Brexit Picture: Chris Bishop

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Trade deals being finalised in the run-up to Brexit will not see UK farmers undermined by cheap food imports.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is  negotiating for the UK after Brexit  Picture: Chris BishopSecretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is negotiating for the UK after Brexit Picture: Chris Bishop

That was the pledge from international trade secretary Liz Truss, when she toured farms across the region on Friday.

Producers in other parts of the world do not have to produce food to the same high standards as British farmers, which means their costs are lower.

But Ms Truss, who is the MP for South West Norfolk, said Farmers across the region are set to benefit from future trade agreements with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which will open up new overseas opportunities.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is  negotiating for the UK after Brexit  Picture: Chris BishopSecretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss visited Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, for talks with farmers about the trade deals she is negotiating for the UK after Brexit Picture: Chris Bishop

Ms Truss visited three farms in the region. The minister’s first stop was Muntons plc, in Stowmarket, where two new warehouses have been established to help the firm increase its exporting operation. She then moved onto Traditional Norfolk Poultry, in Shropham, to examine how they are preparing for the run-up to Christmas and how trade agreements could benefit them across future festive periods.

The final leg of the tour was to Laurel Farm at Wereham, near Downham Market, where farmers stand to gain not just from new trade deals, but also from the lifting of a ban on British beef in the US for the first time in 24 years.

Ed Lankfer, who runs Laurel Farm and is chair of the National Farmers Union’s Downham Market and Southery branch, said: “We’re being asked to produce to a high standard that comes with a cost.

Secretary of State for International Trade and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss on a visit to Laurel Farm, at Wereham, to discuss post-Brexit trade deals with farmers  Picture: Chris BishopSecretary of State for International Trade and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss on a visit to Laurel Farm, at Wereham, to discuss post-Brexit trade deals with farmers Picture: Chris Bishop

“We don’t want lower-grade cheaper imports coming in undermining what we do.”

But Ms Truss said: “My view of British agriculture is we are a high-welfare, quality producer. We’ve got to be near the top of the market, not competing with Brazil to produce cheap beef.

“Farmers and their high standards will be protected as part of any trade agreement we negotiate. I will not accept any deal that undermines or undercuts British farmers and makes them less competitive.”

A farmer makes his feelings clear with a sticker in his pick-up calling for consumers to support UK producers Picture: Chris BishopA farmer makes his feelings clear with a sticker in his pick-up calling for consumers to support UK producers Picture: Chris Bishop

Government analysis predicts a free trade agreement between the UK and US could boost UK growth in the semi-processed foods sector by up to £36m, and by up to £87m for processed foods. East Anglia’s economy could benefit by as much as £345m.


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