According to a recent analysis conducted by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the risk of low standard imports after Brexit is the greatest trade threat to the poultry sector.
The NFU study has looked at how global trade will impact each part of the UK’s agricultural industry, including dairy, horticulture and pigs, once the UK leaves the European Union.
Following a visit by US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross to the Confederation of British Industry’s conference, the NFU’s primary concern is production standards.
Mr Ross said that securing a free trade agreement with the US could hinge on the UK’s readiness to abandon EU regulations, including scrapping those governing imports of chlorinated chicken.
Meanwhile, according to separate research undertaken by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), it is currently only EU tariffs that protect British Egg products from lower priced and lower welfare equivalents from countries such as the US, India and Ukraine.
A spokesman for the BEIC said that pursuing a free trade policy with such countries would result in British farmers being significantly undercut. This is because a large part of the cost of producing a dozen or a kilo of eggs in the EU came from the bloc’s legislation on food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection. However, as the BEIC points out, other countries with lower welfare standards do not have this cost, which the Government needs to realise.
A spokesman for the NFU said that the industry would hold Ministers to assurance that, taking into account the Poultry meat and egg sector’s sensitivities, they will protect British standards after Brexit and limit its exposure to imports produced to different standards.