Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 17 August 2018

Michael Gove “incredibly confident” of a Brexit deal and UK food supply

Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking in the National Trust Theatre on the opening day of BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking in the National Trust Theatre on the opening day of BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that he is “incredibly confident” of the UK striking a deal on Brexit in March.

Speaking to FarmIreland.ie, he also said that the UK government would reveal “technical notices” this month about its plans to secure its food supply chain.

It comes after industry claims that the UK faces running out of some fresh food supplies within days, if the UK fails to secure a Brexit deal next year.

It comes as the IFA said it has ‘grave concerns’ that the UK government could introduce a cheap food policy to get a Brexit deal that works, which it says would not only destroy its domestic market but also drag down the UK market with it.

However, President of the main farming union in the UK, Minette Batters said she is not prepared to let cheap food imports into the UK, which would damage UK farming. The UK, she said has the highest food standards in the world and she is not prepared to have UK farmers held to such high standards and then “let the cheap stuff in”.

“Keeping Government honest is a really challenge and those that want free trade.” She said some in government “want cheaper everything…but you can’t have your cake and eat it.

“Food standards must be debated by Parliament,” she said and Gove reassured her that when the technical notices are published this month “there will be a fair amount of debate” about food standards in the UK.

Gove also told visitors at Countryfile Live in Oxford and focused his on the environmental and health benefits UK farming can bring about and that UK agriculture deserves support and understanding to produce not just food but public goods, such as environmental benefits. The link between good farming and environmental practices is connected to good human health, he said, and “the future of farming can only be moving up the value chain”.

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The audience, he said, was the first most likely to die from diet related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and that it is in the wider interest for the UK to produce the highest standards of food, in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.

“If you want high-quality food produced at the very highest levels, then you have to support our farmers. Because nowhere else is food produced to higher quality standards than here in the United Kingdom,” he said.

He also said that UK wine  producers this year will enjoy a “bumper harvest”. UK sparkling wine will give a greater cheer than French champagne this year, he said, regardless of what else Brexit might bring.

“One of the challenges – or opportunities, dare I say – of a changing climate is that chalky soil of parts of England, combined with the weather we just had, means that English sparkling wine will have a bumper harvest this year.

“So whatever else Brexit may bring, it will bring English sparkling wine, providing a level of cheer to British drinkers, greater than that provided by the French champagne.”

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