UK ‘will not compete through a race to the bottom’, says Gove
Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove highlighted his desire to ensure that “there is no compromise” to the poultry sector’s high animal welfare and environmental standards during the British Poultry Council’s (BPC) annual awards.
Addressing the gathering at the House of Commons, Gove described the poultry sector as a “real food success story”, which is not just delivering quality and wholesome foods, but doing so in an ever-more competitive environment, without public subsidy.
He added: “We know that poultry production is one of the most carbon-efficient ways of ensuring that healthy animal protein can find its way onto the consumers’ kitchen table.
“We also know that Britain maintains the highest animal welfare standards in every area, particularly in poultry production and we cannot compromise those welfare standards as we pursue new trade deals.”
Pointing out that it is vitally important that we get those trade deals, he clarified that the UK “will not compete through a race to the bottom”.
“We will win in the global marketplace by stressing the vital importance of quality,” Gove highlighted.
He added: “In order to show that we are putting our mouth where our money is, we’re going to ensure that British procurement, by a Government liberated from the European Union procurement rules, puts British agricultural production at the heart of the food that we buy for our schoolchildren, for our soldiers and our civil servants.”
Responding to concerns about the future of labour in the poultry sector post-Brexit, Gove stated that the Government will do “everything we can in order to ensure that the skilled workers who are currently here from so many nations…can stay here to ensure that the success story continues for decades to come”.
BPC chairman, John Reed, also called for public procurement of British food and no dilution of health and welfare standards in trade deals, while asking the Government to acknowledge the industry’s contribution to sustainable food production and the economy by procuring British food for public services.
He also underlined the need to “articulate how proud we are of our home-grown food, our world-leading standards and the ‘Great British Food Values’ that go into producing it”.
Reed continued: “Brexit is giving us an opportunity to re-define our Britishness, to say that our first choice is British and to celebrate our own world-class standards.”
Reed was also joined by Neil Parish MP for Tiverton and Honiton to present the 2017 BPC Awards, which acknowledged the exceptional contribution of those working in the sector.
This year’s BPC award winners were:
• Distinguished Service: Reg Smith, Agricultural Director, Faccenda Foods
• Distinguished Service: Dr Andrew Ballantyne Agricultural Technical Manager, Gressingham Foods
• Distinguished Service: Kevin Smith, Director of Agriculture, Banham Poultry Ltd
• Special Merit: Professor Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
• Special Merit: Len Goodman, Anglian Turkey Association
• Student Scholarship of the Year: Allison Doreen Craig, PhD student, SRUC
• Student Scholarship of the Year: Lucy Berriman, Harper Adams graduate and Poultry Biosecurity Field Technician, Kilco International Ltd