Local MP hails beefed up new trade commission

FARMERS in south-west Scotland should prepare to seize new opportunities as the UK leaves the EU.


That was the message from Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack as he welcomed the extension and enhancement of the recently launched Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC).


Alister Jack

The UK Government has placed the TAC, which gives farming and other stakeholders an advisory role in trade negotiations, on to a full statutory footing and extended its life to at least three years.


Mr Jack, who is Scottish Secretary, explained that the Commission will also produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture on each new free trade deal the Government signs after the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1.


He welcomed the positive response to the development from Dumfries and Galloway farmer Andrew McCornick, who is president of NFU Scotland and a member of the TAC.


Mr Jack said: "With industry figures like Andrew joining the Commission and input from a range of interest groups, areas such as animal welfare, food production and environmental standards can be safeguarded.


"The Government has also tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to increase parliamentary scrutiny of future trade deals.


"The fact is that the UK has amongst the highest environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards and they will not be lowered as a result of future trade negotiations."


Mr Jack, who comes from a farming background, said: "I understand that during this time of significant uncertainty many in the industry, including in my constituency, are understandably concerned.


"The high standards of the UK agricultural industry make it a national asset and the last thing the Government would negotiate away is that important unique selling point.


"Many farmers in Dumfries and Galloway have long been outward looking and I believe now is a prudent time to prepare for even greater opportunities ahead in global markets."