Feb 19 Gove promises NFU Conference: "“We have been clear that we will not lower our standards in pursuit of trade deals, and that we will use the tools we have at our disposal – tariffs, quotas and legislation – to make sure standards are protected and you are not left at a competitive disadvantage.” The conference will call for a high-level expert commission to be set up to make sure imported food meets the same standards as British produce after Brexit, as they are concerned that the government would put trade deals ahead of farmers.
Gove has not said how he is going to maintain standards - by law? At present they work by having the incentive to invest because there is a Single Market to sell into, that prevents outsiders undercutting. Outside, that will come into play - so the government would have to employ people with pointy sticks to check ports and shops - and that wont happen as it would be 'more red tape'.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has to deal with more EU Directives and Regulations than any other department - about 40% of the total. PM backs down on 'Henry VIII' clauses Ministers give a big concession to Brexit rebels over the use of Henry VIII (who just decided matters without parliament) powers, by accepting demands for a cross-party committee with power to prevent over-use of the archaic powers, which have been dubbed “rule by decree”. Many aspects of translation from EU to UK laws will be open to interpretation - that should not be by 'ministerial' decree but by parliament - that is why we have a parliamentary democracy.
The book looks at the most important issues to be considered. Prior to the Referendum, DEFRA was being hacked apart, but has since has had to take on a lot of staff to deal with the transfer of EU law into UK law. We have heard that many of those staff have been transferred from other departments - so may know about law, but not about food and farming. We have also heard that major food manufacturers have offered DEFRA their own staff - for free, to help out. This means more than ever there should be a much more open process where we can see what is going on.
In the transfer of law, regulations already made as a result of Directives will continue. However the Directives will have to be translated and put before parliament. A third tier - Statutory Instruments - may be devolved to individual institutions to make their own law. You could imagine Chemical Regulation Division of Health & Safety Executive - responsible for pesticides (lots more in Chapter 9 of Bittersweet Brexit) and REACH - writing its own statutory instruments in future.
UK cannot 'cherry pick' standards, should there be an EU-UK Free Trade Agreement. Mr Barnier said there has to be a "level playing field" with the EU, and the Government must not ditch European standards, such as those currently in place for food safety standards and animal welfare.
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said that "Maintaining high levels of food safety standards across the UK following Brexit is imperative, and without a deal on this with the EU, additional checks will simply have to happen to protect British consumers...a cliff-edge Brexit could see UK consumers suffer as food imports grind to a halt and prices rise". See below 'Sanitary Measures' for who will do the checks.Huge risk to Food standards. FEC Report calls for 'food systems awash with fairness, not chickens washed with chlorine'.
The UK is famous for creating the systems of standards for quality and the environment, through the British Standards Institute. We have 'exported' these standards round the world. There is also an EU standard for the environment (EMAS) that most UK companies avoid.
Ree Smug says we could 'go along way' to reduce standards for safety and environment - to Indian levels - at Treasury Committee
Sue Hayman (Labour) says: "We will be pressing to ensure that the UK has equal and better environmental standards after Brexit, with an independent body with real powers to hold the Government to account.” Why don't you says "The easiest way to maintain standards is stay the Single Market"
NFU says there should not be drop in standards NFU presidents says: "Those who advocate a “cheap food policy” should bear in mind the price that is paid in terms of standards, traceability of produce and shifting the environmental impact to other countries"
Bittersweet Brexit (p217) spells out how already our environmental impact in other countries is already too much. While nearly 1/2 our food comes from abroad, there is disproportionately more impact - 2/3 of our GHGs created and 2X as much land used, abroad.
Environment Minister Michael Gove plans to set up 'world leading' statutory environment body to maintain standards that would ' "hold the powerful to account" to protect land, water, air and wildlife. This is to head off 'serious concerns from Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary that the 'Withdrawl Bill needed “clear and robust protection and enforcement mechanisms” on environmental standards.
Minister says there will be no drop in standards without the 'insane bureaucracy of EU auditors'. June 2018 "“I’m the first minister standing here (CLA) for nearly half a century who’s actually able to change anything,” said Mr Eustice. “We now have the power to legislate any way we see fit.”
The Bar Council (represents UK Barristers) says proposed UK environmental watchdog will be useless. It does not replicate the current legal framework, based in EU, for safeguarding key issues from air and water quality to biodiversity. See below for more..

Animal Welfare Standards

Food Research Collaboration says "The UK, as part of the EU, currently enjoys some of the highest standards for farm animal welfare in the world" and spells out "the gaps in animal welfare standards between the UK and its likely future trading partners, and specifies the measures that need to be put in place to protect animal welfare – and livestock farmers".
Red Tractor scheme was set up to guarantee quality standards after the Mad Cow disease outbreak in the 1990s. However, in July 18, it was found that there are virtually no unannounced audits, leading to some pretty appalling conditions for animals. They have accepted need for change, in relation to animal welfare. In terms of human welfare, when we tried - via the Health & Safety Executive, to get health and safety to be one of the standards, it was laughed out.
What government must do to protect standards "Welfare standards risk being diluted or sacrificed after Brexit unless assurances given by Government ministers become firm commitments written into UK Law. This Brexit Briefing spells out the gaps in animal welfare standards between the UK and its likely future trading partners, and specifies the measures that need to be put in place to protect animal welfare – and livestock farmers – as the UK leaves the EU "

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection and food policy at Which?, said research has shown that British consumers value the UK’s high food standards and believe imports produced to an inferior standard should not be allowed in the UK.

Amendment to Agriculture Bill, to maintain same standards as UK when importing food, was lost

The Bar Council (represents UK Barristers) says proposed environmental watchdog will be useless. It "does not replicate the current legal framework for safeguarding key issues from air and water quality to biodiversity" (See Sustainability for more). The body would not have comparable powers to the EU commission in respect of complaints by individuals, and there is no proposed role or power for the body to take the government to court. in enforcing environmental improvements - like air pollution. Bittersweet Brexit highlighted role of EU powers in relation to burning moors in the North of England, when the UK government body - Natural England, dropped the issue.
This raises an important issue post Brexit. Audits are used in voluntary systems - to check compliance to higher standards than legally required. Inspections are carried out by various government agencies and can lead to fines. post Brexit, there are liikely to moves towards more audit style compliance than inspections.