The UK will have no choice but to accept US food standards if it wants a post-Brexit trade deal because Donald Trump will not exclude agriculture from a new accord and risk fury in rural America, it has been claimed.
Zippy Duvall, the boss of the American Farm Bureau lobbying group, said striking a trans-Atlantic trade deal which did not include agriculture would be seen as the White House ‘turning its back’ on US farmers.
His comments immediately reignited an ongoing debate over whether US-produced chlorine-washed chicken should be allowed to be imported into the UK after Brexit.
Pro-Remain campaigners said accepting lower food standards would result in the ‘undercutting and destruction’ of British farming.
Mr Duvall defended US food production techniques and said he believed consumers should be able to ‘make the choice of what food they want to eat and where it’s grown at’.
His comments come amid a growing appetite in London and Washington for a post-Brexit trade deal.
John Bolton, a leading ally of Mr Trump and the US national security adviser, said on a visit to the UK earlier this week that he believed the two nations were on course for an ‘unprecedented partnership’.
Mr Bolton also said Mr Trump would ‘enthusiastically’ support a No Deal Brexit and promised the UK would be ‘first in line’ for a trade deal once it has split from Brussels on October 31.
Donald Trump, pictured on Tuesday this week, will be under pressure from US farming to include agriculture in a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain
John Bolton, the US national security adviser, met with Boris Johnson this week to talk trade and he said the UK would be ‘first in line’ for a deal
Washing chickens with chlorine is designed to kill germs but the practice is banned in the EU.
The actual washing of the chicken in chlorine is safe but there are concerns about the animal welfare standards in place during the production process.
The UK government has resisted suggestions that Britain could lower its food standards to do a deal with the US.
But Mr Duvall’s comments suggest that the two sides are on a collision course on the issue.
He told the BBC: ‘To have a trade treaty and not discuss agriculture would be turning your back on rural America and that’s where a big part of our population lives.’
He added: ‘A lot of our farmers don’t understand why other countries implement tariffs on our products but then they don’t want us to implement any tariffs on our end, so we need to level that playing field, tear down all those barriers and let our people be able to make the choice of what food they want to eat and where it’s grown at.’
Mr Duvall said that in America ‘we treat our water with chlorine’ as he insisted there was ‘no scientific basis that says that washing poultry with a chlorine wash just to be safe of whatever pathogens might be on that chicken as it was prepared for the market, should be taken away’.
But Ian Murray, a Labour MP and supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: ‘The head of America’s farming lobby, Zippy Duvall, could not have been any clearer – a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the US will mean lower food and farming standards, including chlorine-washed chicken and other products British consumers do not want on our shelves.
‘The knock-on effect of accepting lower US food standards would be the undercutting and destruction of British farming and food production.
‘A new report by Farmers for a People’s Vote published today shows over half of UK farms could go under in the case of a No Deal Brexit – a trade deal with Trump that undercuts standards and costs would amplify this disaster even further.’
Mr Bolton met with Boris Johnson during his visit this week and said afterwards that Mr Trump was a ‘leaver before there were leavers’, he would ‘enthusiastically’ support a No Deal Brexit and promised the UK would be ‘first in line’ for a trade deal.
Mr Bolton’s two day visit also saw him meet with Sajid Javid as the US and UK both made positive noises about doing a trade deal
Mr Bolton tweeted a picture of him with the Prime Minister along with a glowing prediction about the future of the special relationship.
He said: ‘I had a great meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.
‘We discussed trade, security, and opportunities to deepen our bilateral relationship after the UK leaves the EU.
‘The US and UK are on course for an unprecedented partnership.’
Mr Johnson conceded a US-UK trade deal will be a ‘tough old haggle’ as he insisted the most important agreement Britain needs to strike is with the EU.
Despite the positivity surrounding the doing of a deal from both sides, there are other hurdles which will need to be cleared in order to strike an agreement.
Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi yesterday threatened to torpedo any post-Brexit trade agreement between the US and UK if it threatened the Good Friday Agreement by creating new checks at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.