US and UK begin talks on potential post-Brexit farm trade
Mr Perdue has arrived in the UK to talk about post-Brexit agricultural trade with British counterparts.
Mr Perdue, who is the 31st Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), first met with EFRA chair Neil Parish on Thursday (12 October).
Talks centred on the key challenges and opportunities for UK-US agri-food trade following Brexit, an Efra statement said.
“Britain is still part of the EU and we have to be respectful of that relationship but that doesn’t preclude the fact we can begin the conversations on what would be in our best interests as two sovereign nations to pursue going forward,” Mr Perdue told reporters after the meeting.
There have been concerns about lowering British food standards to meet American standards, such as washing chicken with chlorine, which is currently banned in the EU.
Mr Gove has previously said Britain would not lower its food or animal welfare standards in order to secure trade agreements after Brexit.
Indeed, a report has warned of the potential increase in cheaper, lower standard food imports to the UK which could put British farmers at a competitive disadvantage.
However, Mr Perdue explained: “I think that is one of the things I’m here to dispel. We don’t process chicken with chlorine any longer.”
Mr Perdue then said he wanted British consumers to be able to make decisions “based on sound science and facts, not perception or myth.”
Regardless, EFRA members raised the importance of maintaining food standards in any trade deal with the US.
“We must ensure that a trade deal protects UK consumers and maintains a level playing field for our own producers.
Mr Perdue said it is too early to go into too much detail on future trade potential, but he added British lamb could be a big winner for American consumers.
“We think probably the UK is ahead of us in lamb and sheep production.
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