Post-Brexit trade deals will protect region’s farmers, minister pledges
PUBLISHED: 19:03 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 September 2020
Trade deals being finalised in the run-up to Brexit will not see UK farmers undermined by cheap food imports.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.