Eating Better is calling on the Government for Brexit and new trade deals to mean high-standard Britain, particularly for meat and dairy foods, not bargain-bin Britain.
Beyond the CAP: policies to support better UK meat & dairy production post-Brexit
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Read Eating Better’s press release.
The new report from Eating Better alliance urges the Government to see Brexit as an historic opportunity to reshape our food and farming system so that it delivers better for our health, the environment and climate change, for farm animal welfare, and for providing livelihoods from sustainable farming.
The call comes as future food standards are under the spotlight. An influential House of Lords Committee has warned that cheap imported food after Brexit could threaten farm animal standards with Government ministers appearing divided over future food standards. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox received criticism for dismissing concerns about chlorine-dipped chicken while Environment, Farming and Fisheries Secretary Michael Gove has defended high standards and acknowledged that farm subsidies need to be better directed.
“British livestock farmers cannot compete with other countries in a race to the bottom, and they shouldn’t try. 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 which should underpin our meat and dairy particularly for our crucial export markets, not a ‘bargain-bin Britain,’ says Clare Oxborrow, of Friends of the Earth and Chair of the Eating Better alliance.
The report finds that the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is not fit for purpose. In particular it fails to adequately address the environmental and climate change impacts of livestock farming. Furthermore, trade negotiations risk undermining UK standards of environmental protection, food safety and farm animal welfare. The call follows recent evidence from the Government’s Committee on Climate Change that the UK is failing to meet its targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture – where livestock is a particular hotspot.
“Food and farming policies fit for the future will require more than tinkering with subsidies or favourable trade deals. We need to step off the treadmill of industrially produced livestock that comes at such a cost to animal welfare, our health and the environment,” says Sue Dibb, Eating Better’s Executive Director. “To do this we need a shift to healthier and sustainable eating patterns; with more plant-based foods, less meat and dairy products – particularly from intensive, industrial systems, and towards farming systems that produce ‘better ‘ meat and dairy to higher animal welfare and environmental standards. This need not cost consumers more.”
The Eating Better alliance says the status quo is not an option and the £3bn of current UK farming subsidies need to be better spent on delivering public benefits. Calling for a new strategy with policies and mechanisms to support the essential transition towards a fairer, greener and healthier food system, Eating Better puts forward 10 recommendations for:
- An integrated food and farming strategy to replace CAP which drives progress towards climate change goals for agriculture and supports public health and restoring biodiversity.
- A transition to healthy sustainable eating patterns with less and better meat and dairy with more plant-based eating.
- High standards and enforcement for environmental protection, food safety, antibiotic use in livestock farming and farm animal welfare.
- Public money for the provision of public goods such as wildlife, farm animal welfare, environmental and landscape benefits, including building healthy soils, enhanced biodiversity, flood alleviation and climate change mitigation.
- Sustainable levels of livestock production in line with the carrying capacity of land, climate change goals and environmental limits, the principles of sustainable diets and public expectations for high quality, high welfare, sustainably produced UK livestock products.
- Protection for high quality permanent grassland and carbon-rich soils that avoids overgrazing.
- Sustainably sourced animal feed toreduce the UK’s impact on climate change and biodiversity in other countries. Alternative feeds with lower impact should be developed, including consideration of heat-treated, safe, food waste for pigs and chickens.
- Clear and honest labelling including a mandatory method of production labelling for all livestock products.
- Economic support for sustainable livestock production systems including more extensive pasture-based, agro-ecological, organic, and mixed farming systems.
- Sufficient transition funding for innovation, research and training to support the practical and cultural shift needed.
Beyond the CAP: policies to support better UK meat & dairy production post-Brexit has been produced in consultation withEating Better and other civil society organisations and farming interests. We welcome feedback.
Eating Better’s press release.