It is “categorically” untrue that food and farming standards will be lowered when Britain leaves the European Union, International Trade secretary Liam Fox will say in a speech to the industry today.
Mr Fox will tell the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and representatives from the agriculture sector that recent market access agreements secured by the Department for International Trade were secured “because, and not in spite of, the UK’s world-class agricultural standards”.
The senior minister is expected to say: “We must ensure that the agricultural producers of this country can remain profitable. The same is true of the farming industry.
“Last week, alongside the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove, I chaired a roundtable discussion at Downing Street with some of the UK’s leading agri-tech companies.
“We want our companies to be able to tap into the opportunities of the wider world – accessing those high-growth markets whose demand will drive our own prosperity over the next generation.
“Most of you will, I’m sure, be familiar with the headline population forecasts: by 2050, there will be another three billion mouths to feed. This represents an unprecedented challenge, but also a vast opportunity.
“I have no need to tell you that expanding populations in the developing world also means a vastly increased demand for agricultural products, not least meat, dairy and crops.”
Focusing on trade with China, Mr Fox will highlight examples of where the UK’s agriculture and food standards have helped the UK open markets around the world.
During his speech, he is expected to go on to say: “In June, the Chinese Government agreed to lift a 20-year ban on the import of British beef… (this) could be worth £250m to British beef producers in the first five years alone.
“In August, I travelled to China to sign two other landmark agreements for agricultural produce.
“The first opens up the Chinese market to British dairy products made with milk from third countries – a significant step that could be worth £240m to the wider dairy industry.
“The second allows for the export of British seed potatoes to China. This is particularly beneficial for Scotland. Scottish farms provide around 70 per cent of our seed potato exports.
“And in July last year we announced a £200m deal for seven businesses across Britain and Northern Ireland to sell their produce into China in a major boost to the UK pork industry.”
He will add: “A final, and very important, point that I wish to make, is that these agreements were reached because, and not in spite of, the UK’s world-class agricultural standards.
"There have been a lot of reports lately, mostly on social media, that my Department has been planning to lower food and farming standards when negotiating Free Trade Agreements post-Brexit. Well, today I am here in person, and let me tell you categorically that these reports are untrue.
“It is your hard work over the past three decades that has made our standards among the highest in the world.”