British farmers told ‘stop being defensive’ about Brexit trade deal

Hormone beef not happening, minister says after Austrialia trade deal

Liz Truss told UK farmers to ‘stop being defensive’ (Picture: Phillip Ide/Getty)

Liz Truss has said hormone-injected beef will remain banned as she defended the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with Australia.

The international trade secretary also rejected fears British farmers will be undercut by foreign exports, insisting she is ‘fully confident’ UK farmers will still be able to compete and they should ‘stop being defensive’.

The RSPCA’s chief executive Chris Sherwood had warned it was legal in Australia to mutilate the rear end of sheep, while chicken can be washed with chlorine and almost half of cattle are given growth hormones.

But Ms Truss told the BBC hormone-injected beef remained banned from the UK and ‘there is virtually no trade in products like chickens because it is so far away’.

She said there was a 15-year transition period before Australia had quota-free access to the UK.

She added: ‘Australia has some very high animal welfare standards and in fact in some cases they are higher standards than many EU countries, where we already have a quota-free, tariff-free deal.’

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Ms Truss was challenged about the economic benefits of the deal, forecast to add 0.02% to the economy, compared with the estimated four per cent long-term hit from Brexit.

She said: ‘We are likely to see a 30% increase in trade with Australia by 2030.’

She described the deal as ‘a stepping stone to the trans-Pacific partnership, which is a major deal with 11 countries in the Pacific region, population 500million’.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Government’s ‘disastrous’ deal has ‘thrown Scottish farmers and crofters under their Brexit bus’.

He pressed Boris Johnson to put the deal to a Commons vote, with the Prime Minister telling MPs: ‘The people of this country voted for this Government to get on and deliver free trade deals around the world and I believe they were totally right.’

Mr Johnson also described it as a ‘great deal’ for both UK and Scotland.
Under the terms of the deal, tariffs for beef and sheep meat will be eliminated after 10 years, with a duty-free quota of 35,000 tonnes of beef initially, rising to 110,000 tonnes at the end of that period, and 25,000 tonnes of sheep meat, rising to 75,000 tonnes.

In the subsequent five years there will be safeguard measures aimed at ensuring Australian meat does not flood the market.

Details were published by Canberra but not the UK Government.

Downing Street said some of the final details of the agreement are still being worked through and agreed and it will be published in full once that has happened.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: ‘It is (Mr Johnson’s) view that this is a deal that offers opportunities for the entire country and this is something we should unite behind.’

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