UK won’t do trade deals that undercut British farmers on standards: Gove
Gove's plan for post-Brexit agricultural policy, is a switch away from subsidies simply for owning land to payments for public good
The UK's Environment Secretary also said he believed the “landing point” for a deal on food and agriculture with the EU after the UK leaves the bloc would be a “pragmatic, tariff-free deal with as few barriers as possible”.
Concerns have been raised that barriers to trade and free movement could hit the £110 billion-a-year agriculture and food sector, for which the EU accounts for 60pc of exports and 70pc of imports and provides many workers.
There are also fears trade deals with countries including the US could see imports of cheaper, lower-standard produce such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef.
Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union annual conference in Birmingham, the Environment Secretary moved to reassure the agricultural sector that they would not be undercut by imports of such produce.
He echoed comments being made by Brexit Secretary David Davis in Vienna that the UK would not be pursuing a “Mad Max” deregulation agenda after it leaves the European Union.
“As we leave the EU we want to demonstrate we are a civilised developed economy and that when it comes to environmental protection and animal welfare, as is the case also when it come to the rights of working people, we don’t want to see any diminuation and dilution of high standards.
“Leaving the EU is about exercising greater democratic control, not pursuing a race to the bottom.”
Quizzed by farmers at the conference, Mr Gove also said: “We won’t be signing trade deals that mean that British producers are undercut on animal welfare or environmental standards.”