NFU urges MPs to support British farming as Brexit looms

The importance of UK farming standards has been highlighted to MPs from across the political spectrum
The importance of UK farming standards has been highlighted to MPs from across the political spectrum

The NFU has met with MPs and urged them to support British farming as the UK looks likely to leave the EU by the end of January.

The union held one of its first receptions for politicians since the general election last week.

MPs were told to recognise the importance of Britain’s farming standards and ensure they are not sacrificed by the UK’s future trade policy.

Politicians from across the political spectrum attended the reception, along with peers, industry representatives and civil servants, to meet with industry leaders and hear of priorities for the coming parliament.

NFU president Minette Batters welcomed Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers and her ministerial team back to their posts.

Mrs Batters also paid tribute to the shadow Defra team that lost their seats in the election.

“In this parliament, we will see new legislation that will impact British farming for years to come. These will be landmark moments that will affect us all,” she said.

“For our economy, our health and our environment, there is nothing more important than the food we eat and for me, food and farming standards sit at the heart of everything.”

Industry groups have urged the government to value the UK's high farming standards and not sacrifice them in future trade deals, in favour of imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK.

Mrs Batters said: “Our food values of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety must be central to everything from agricultural policy to trade policy.

“This is why I have been calling continually for the government to introduce a trade and standards commission that can advise on future trade agreements and also scrutinise the negotiations to ensure our standards are not undermined by imports.

“The government now has a fantastic opportunity to make British agriculture a global leader in producing the most sustainable and climate-friendly food in the world, which can be valued at home and abroad.

“It is absolutely vital that politicians from all parties work to achieve these goals and ensure we have a thriving agriculture in Britain,” she said.

The reception took place on Wednesday 18 December at the NFU’s London office in Westminster.