dairy cows

An alliance of NGOs and charities including Compassion in World Farming, the WWF and Friends of the Earth has urged the government to retain high health and environmental standards in the food chain after Brexit.

With warnings that cheap imported food after Brexit could threaten standards, and amid fears a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could lead to chlorinated chicken imports, a report published today (31 July) by the Eating Better alliance said the government faced an “historic opportunity” to reshape its food and farming policy to deliver a “better” production system.

“The status quo is not an option. Now is the time to develop a new strategy with policies and mechanisms to support the essential transition towards a fairer, greener and healthier food system,” the report said.

The alliance is advocating the UK “step off the treadmill of industrially produced livestock that comes at such a cost to animal welfare, our health and the environment”, as part of 10 recommendations for a new food and farming policy.

Eating Better executive director Sue Dibb said the alliance was also calling for a shift to healthier and sustainable eating patterns, with more plant-based foods and less meat and dairy products - particularly from intensive industrial systems.

Other recommendation include replacing the Common Agriculture Policy with a greater focus on climate change goals; reducing the dependency on imported, non-sustainably sourced animal feed; mandatory method of production labelling for all livestock products; and more funding to help farmers transition to sustainable production methods.

“British livestock farmers cannot compete with other countries in a race to the bottom, and they shouldn’t try,” said Eating Better alliance chair Clare Oxborrow. “Brexit provides the opportunity to create, and promote, a high-standard Britain, one synonymous with globally leading production standards for animal welfare and the environment. It is this that should underpin our meat and dairy particularly for our crucial export markets, not a bargain-bin Britain,” she added.