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Leadsom offers assurances on animal welfare

Animal welfare standards will not be watered down once Britain leaves the EU, the environment secretary has promised.

Addressing the NFU conference this week, Andrea Leadsom said the government would honour the pledge in the Conservative Party’s 2015 manifesto that high animal welfare standards will be incorporated into future international trade agreements.

She tackled head on concerns that a future trade deal with America could see products made to lower standards competing with higher quality British products, stating that the government was committed to maintaining a level playing field to the UK’s high standards.

She added that she was committed to working with the industry to improve the UK’s welfare standards, whilst ensuring that domestic producers were not put at a competitive disadvantage.

“The Union flag represents all that’s great about our food – we are in the top four in the world for animal welfare – and leaving the EU will not change that,” Leadsom said.

The Secretary of State used her speech to set out her five principles for a prosperous future farming industry based around trade; productivity and innovation; environment; animal and plant health; and resilience.

“We should follow these five principles to guide us through a period of change, and provide a foundation for the sort of industry we want to build over the coming years,” she concluded.