AUTHORS: Allan Buckwell – Michael Nicholson
This paper examines the role of core environmental standards in the UK’s post Brexit trading relationships in relation to imported agri-food products (specifically in relation to pesticide and fertiliser use) and how we maintain those standards to protect the environment both at home and abroad.
Now that the UK is an independent trading nation seeking to negotiate its own trade deals, a key issue relates to trade and environmental standards in agriculture. Currently, UK farmers must comply with a large number of mandatory environmental requirements set out in UK law.
However, these requirements are not imposed on relevant agri-food products imported into the UK. The UK imports nearly 50% of the agri-food it consumes. The fact that there is no system in place to regulate the environmental performance of almost half of the UK’s agricultural consumption means that the UK has an undesirably large external environmental footprint – despite the stringent environmental regulations to which UK farmers are subject.
As such the development of core environmental standards – mandatory environmental requirements applicable to all relevant agri-food products imported into the UK, would go some way to reducing the environmental impact of the UK’s food and give confidence to UK farmers that they are not being unfairly under-cut by producers from overseas.
This report sets out what those core environmental standards might look like, focussing specifically on fertiliser and pesticide use, and how we could implement them in a World Trade Organization compliant manner.