UFU comment on announcement of Trade and Agriculture Commission

Monday, 29 June, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says the announcement made by the UK Government today confirming the establishment of a Trade and Agriculture Commission, is a vital development amid post Brexit trade negotiations and will be well received by members.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, “We have been pushing for the introduction of legislation to ensure that the UK's production standards are not undermined and we will continue to do so as both the Agriculture and Trade Bills have progressed through the UK Parliament. In addition, along with the other UK farming unions, we have been lobbying for the establishment of a Trade and Agriculture Commission for the past 18 months, and we are very pleased that Government have recognised the importance of setting up the commission to address the challenges of protecting our world leading farming and food production standards. Our members now have a formation in the shape of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, that will help to ensure that their dedication to upholding the UK’s high-production standards and producing quality food for the nation, is not undermined in future trade deals.

“The UFU is looking forward to getting things moving in the coming days. The next step is working with Government and other stakeholders on the Commission’s terms of reference to make sure that the work is valuable. It is particularly essential that Parliament can appropriately review the Commission’s proposals and can ensure Government implements them effectively.

“Ultimately, it comes down to this: we have welcomed and been reassured by verbal assurances and manifesto commitments on the issue. But by themselves they are incapable of answering the question at the heart of the matter: how can a government, both practically and legally, liberalise trade while safeguarding the UK’s high and valued standards of production?

“We desperately need a detailed trade and standards roadmap to navigate our way through this question. We have, and still are seeking to secure the introduction of legislation through the Parliamentary processes which would guarantee these safeguards. However, by establishing the Commission, which will quickly provide clear and detailed recommendations for Government, the UK can meet the aspirations of our public and farmers – an outward looking Britain that effectively champions the high-quality food our farmers produce.

“As trade negotiations continue, the UFU will remain committed to analysing the progress with all countries in great detail as well as proceeding with the Commission’s work so that our future trade deals benefit UK farmers and consumers, and allow the Northern Ireland agriculture industry to flourish. The support of Parliament is a vital aspect of achieving this.”