Food Production Standards

Thank you for contacting me about maintaining British food production standards ahead of any future trade deals.


I know that many constituents are concerned about recent media reports that UK animal welfare and food production standards will be lowered as part of future trade deals. As a veterinary surgeon, this is an issue that I feel passionately about.


As the Agriculture Bill goes to the Lords, Peers have an opportunity to amend the Bill to uphold animal welfare and food production standards in future trade deals, something I deeply regret that the Commons failed to do last month. In the Commons, I was proud to add my name to and vote, against the Government, for the standards amendment to the Bill, but sadly it did not pass. I believe we missed an opportunity to make a powerful statement from the UK that we can be a beacon on this. If the Bill can be amended, we can ensure that any imports are produced to our domestic standards. This will benefit our own farmers and animals, but also ultimately farmers and animals globally.


This UK Government will not compromise on our standards. Our manifesto is clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU and the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book.  


These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.


The UK’s food standards, for both domestic production and imports, are overseen by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. These are independent agencies and provide advice to the UK and Scottish governments. They will continue to do so in order to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreement.  


All parts of the UK should be proud of our world-leading food, health and animal welfare standards and we will not lower our standards as we negotiate new trade deals.  I will continue to stand up for the farmers in Penrith and The Border and across Cumbria and the wider UK. We have the best farmers and produce great food using high standards. We should be very proud of that. Please know that I will continue to work with Government, including being prepared to vote against them as I have already done on this, to ensure our high standards in animal health and welfare and food production are upheld. I can also say that I very happily have signed the NFU’s petition on food standards.


Thank you again for being in touch on this important issue.


With best wishes