Neil Parish

The Committee, chaired by Neil Parish (pictured), will identify opportunities and challenges of post-Brexit trading arrangements on the agri-food sector 

The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has launched a new inquiry into the impact post-Brexit trading arrangements with the EU will have on the food and farming sectors.

A new framework for trading food and agricultural products across European borders would present “new opportunities and challenges for the UK’s agri-food sector”, said the Committee, which is seeking written evidence from interested parties by 20 October.

The inquiry will seek to identify those challenges and opportunities; in addition to looking at what trade policy objectives the government should establish “in order to achieve the right balance between the interests of food consumers, producers and processors, and the environment”.

The cross-party Committee would also look at how effective the government’s arrangements for consulting the food and farming sector are. It will also examine how it has represented their interests within the UK’s negotiations with the EU, and how the government has represented the interest of the UK’s individual nations and devolved administrations.

It is aiming to pay particular attention to the sheep and lamb, beef, dairy, pork, poultry, horticultural and cereals sectors, and will seek to identify what the government, farmers, food producers and processors can do to prepare for potential changes to trading arrangements.

“The food and farming sector is a key part of the UK economy, contributing some £108bn annually and employing around 3.9 million people,” said Efra chairman Neil Parish MP.

“It is vital that future trade arrangements allow farmers and food processors to compete effectively. We welcome views on the steps that the government and agri-food sector need to take to enable farmers and processors to sell more of their produce at home and abroad. We also want to hear views on how trade policies can best allow UK consumers access to affordable, good-quality food after Brexit.”