The UK Government’s Agriculture Bill paves the way for the future of the United Kingdom’s agriculture system, and provides for a system that puts the environment and animal welfare at the heart of its priorities. I am deeply disappointed that the Scottish Government have chosen to make Scotland the only part of the UK which will not be covered by the Bill, not least since this is leaving Scottish farmers in the dark as to how payments will continue after Brexit.
However, this Bill’s scope is limited to laying the groundwork for the UK’s approach to domestic agriculture, and so it is not the appropriate forum for placing restrictions on the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy. This will be laid out in time for the UK regaining control over its trade policy at the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020.
I am pleased that the UK Government has made a clear commitment that future trade agreements will uphold the UK’s high animal welfare standards. Under these plans, public consultations will be run ahead of any negotiations for new trade agreements, and any final agreement will be scrutinised and ratified by the UK Parliament. The UK Government has also committed to working closely with the Scottish Government in developing its trade policy and in any trade negotiations.