US food imported into Britain in post-Brexit trade deal 'must meet UK standards'
American food imported under any post-Brexit free trade deal with the United States will have to meet British standards, the Environment Secretary has said.
Andrea Leadsom sought to dispel fears that the Government could water down its own protections to make it easier to strike a trade agreement with the US, which is perceived to have lower environment and food safety standards.
She insisted the Government would stick to a Conservative manifesto commitment to maintain animal welfare standards in international trade deals.
And she backed the continuation of the UK's Red Tractor kitemark, which confirms food has been independently checked and meets standards on traceability, safety and hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection.
Answering questions following a speech to the National Farmers Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham, Ms Leadsom said: "In terms of the free trade agreement and particularly the reference to the Atlantic and the Red Tractor - I'm a huge fan of the Red Tractor, and there's absolutely nothing that's going to knock that into a ditch as far as I'm concerned.
"And of course food standards are key, I already mentioned in my speech we have a manifesto commitment on animal welfare standards in international free trade agreements.
"We will remain committed to ensuring a level playing field to our high standards."
Ms Leadsom also indicated that the Government is looking at ways to encourage technological innovation to reduce the reliance of Britain's farming and food processing industries on seasonal workers from the EU.