Just last week the Government launched the new Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) to help boost farming exports and uplift our economy.
Ministers responded to recommendations made by the original Commission that originally formed following Brexit, making commitments on animal welfare, and tackling antimicrobial resistance in trade agreements. We welcome the formation of this commission as it is critical to ensure that trade deals do not undercut our high welfare standards and that British farmers prioritise this. However, FOUR PAWS UK is disappointed to see a lack of animal welfare expertise on this newly formed panel.
Chaired by Lorand Bartels, Professor of International Law, the new TAC is tasked with providing scrutiny of new trade deals once they reach the signature stage, helping ensure world-leading British agricultural standards are upheld. But who will be speaking up for animal welfare in these new deals? Also important is making sure we do not import products where standards are far lower than our own, such as from Australia and the US. Most worrying the TAC speaks of the new deal with Australia as a good one, but we know that with their agriculture standards far below our own, this is not the case – for animal welfare at least.
The Government do say that “maintaining the UK’s high standards will be a red line in all our trade negotiations, with no compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare or food standards” - but we have heard promises before, and without animal welfare experts at the table to demand this, will this ever truly be the case? We are especially concerned that the Government refuses to rule out imports of lower welfare standards, so we can see things like hormone fed beef and chlorinated chicken on our supermarket shelves as early as 2022. Without any welfare experts, or even vets, in the commission, who will speak up for them?
FOUR PAWS UK will continue its work through our own coalition of animal welfare experts – the Trade and Animal Welfare coalition (TAWC) - and we will perform our own scrutiny and produce our own recommendations which we hope ministers and the TAC will take on board. This way we can assure voices speak up for animal welfare in new trade negotiations.