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House of Commons Hansard
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Support for Farmers
06 December 2018
Volume 650
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14. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers after the UK leaves the EU. [908052]

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15. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on support for farmers after the UK leaves the EU. [908053]

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We continue to have regular conversations with ministerial colleagues across Government on all aspects of exiting the European Union, including support for farmers. The Agriculture Bill is part of the Government’s programme of critical legislation to deliver a smooth exit from the European Union and seize the opportunities of a green Brexit. It will allow us to break from the EU’s common agricultural policy and free farmers to continue producing world-class food.

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The EU is our biggest export market for agricultural goods, including a huge amount that we export from south Gloucestershire. Does the Minister agree that maintaining unfettered access to that market is absolutely essential for businesses around the country, including the many farms in south Gloucestershire in places such as Chalford?

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I absolutely agree, which is why we have a deal on the table that will deliver that, and why the political declaration sets out the plan for a free trade area for goods, including agri-food. It recognises that controls and checks will depend on the UK’s commitments on regulatory co-operation, including the level of alignment with EU rules. We need to agree that balance as part of the future negotiations, but we have agreed to be as ambitious as possible.

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A key concern to Cheshire farmers is to know what discussions the Secretary of State has had with his counterparts in the Departments for International Trade and for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about protecting UK food and farming standards following exit from the EU.

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We continue to have regular conversations with colleagues across Government, including the Department for International Trade, on all aspects of exit, including farm and food standards. As we leave the European Union we are clear that consumers must be confident that food has been produced to a high standard and that we must protect highly integrated supply chains to the benefit of customers across Europe. That is why we have this deal on the table.

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When the Agriculture Bill comes back to this Chamber, will the Government table an amendment to maintain our high standards on food safety and animal welfare in future trade agreements?

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I look forward to that discussion in the course of the Agriculture Bill.

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Less than a week after the Environment Secretary declared that the UK would lead a GM food revolution, the UK Government’s Minister for Trade Policy claimed that dropping food import standards would cause “untold damage”. Does the DExEU Minister agree with his colleagues?

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I always agree with my governmental colleagues.