On 25 February 2020, NFU President Minette Batters in the opening speech to the NFU's annual conference in Birmingham, challenged the government to use British farm standards as the benchmark for any food imports in future trade deals. Batters stated, "This isn't just about chlorinated chicken. This is about a wider principle. We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung". Warning against the potential impact on British farming, Batters went on to say, "To sign up to a trade deal which results in opening our ports, shelves and fridges to food which would be illegal to produce would not only be morally bankrupt, it would the work of the insane".
The NFU called upon the government to put safeguards in the Agriculture Bill to protect farmers from imports that do not comply with animal safety and welfare standards followed in the UK.
Sources: NFU: NFU20: British farm standards must be the benchmark in future trade deals (25 February 2020) and Reuters: Brexit Britain must avoid 'morally bankrupt' trade deals - farmers' union (25 February 2020).