Commission will safeguard food and welfare standards, says MP

Scotland and the rest of the UK will remain world-leaders in food and animal welfare standards after future trade deals.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack made that confident prediction this week in response to claims to the contrary from political opponents, which had fuelled recent public and industry fears.

The Dumfries and Galloway MP was welcoming confirmation by Cabinet colleague Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, of the creation of a Trade and Agricultural Commission to ensure strict food and welfare standards are maintained in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

The development has been supported by all three National Farmers' Unions across the UK, including NFU Scotland.

Mr Jack said: "There was never a realistic threat to food and animal standards through the forthcoming negotiations as the quality of our agricultural industry and produce is a key selling point which we will naturally protect as we work to expand our export markets.

"The concerns expressed were driven by politicians and activists with a different political agenda and we are now formalising the protection of our standards through the Commission.

"Our priority is to secure the best trade deals, providing new opportunities, which will benefit agriculture, the food industry and consumers. I believe the Commission is a very positive development."

Mr Jack held meetings with senior NFU Scotland officials prior to this week's Commission announcement.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, who farms near Dumfries, described the news as 'a significant step forward.'

He said: "“For all UK farming Unions, the creation of a commission with the potential to safeguard our food and farming standards while navigating the complexities of negotiating new trade deals has been a priority for more than 18 months."  

He added: “We look forward to working with the Secretary of State and his officials, alongside other stakeholders, in the days ahead on the Commission’s terms of reference."