Having provided written evidence, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has now welcomed the new report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, focusing on Brexit, trade, and agri-food.
The report, released yesterday, looks at the impact on the trade in food arising from Brexit. The situation is given added importance as the UK will no longer participate in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) when it leaves the EU.
The Committee has called for a fund to prepare British farming for Brexit, a specific impact analysis for each agricultural sector, plans for physical and IT infrastructure to be drawn up now, and for new trading partnerships to be explored.
CIEH strongly agrees with the conclusion that the heavy impact of Brexit on the agri-food sector and trade poses a real and high risk of disruption to both the UK food trade and the wider farming industry. The report also stresses the importance of maintaining the UK’s high standards for food safety and animal welfare after we have left the EU.
CIEH Head of Policy, Tony Lewis, said:
“This report spells out a number of vital issues affecting our food and trade resulting from Brexit.
From the potential of disruption to our food industry, the imposition of significant additional burden on our border and port inspection services, and the need to maintain and build on our food and environmental standards, there are a great number of challenges facing our country looming on the horizon from Brexit.
We are particularly pleased to see that the Committee has picked up our concerns regarding the impact that re-establishing food inspection, sampling, and detention, on our borders and ports will have on the ‘just in time’ food systems operating in the UK.
However, we are concerned that the Committee does not appear to have fully grasped the processes and impact arising from reverting to WTO trade rules and tariffs, and the consequent impact on the UK food industry and food trade. We believe this requires further elaboration.
Notably, evidence submitted in respect of increases in food prices does not seem to have been subject to appropriate challenge and analysis and in the absence of this CIEH is concerned about any subsequent impact on food poverty and health inequalities.
We also note the report’s concerns regarding the lack of Official Veterinarians; however, it is our view that the Committee should have noted that the Official Veterinarian is an EU construct and therefore Brexit is an opportunity to properly explore the use of environmental health practitioners as a credible alternative
This report is an important step in the right direction, but there are more questions that urgently need answers.”