Michael Gove has said that leaving the EU will provide opportunities for the UK to improve environmental and animal welfare standards, ensuring not just the highest ethical standards but also the strongest possible business position for British agriculture.
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs addressed his comments to MPs and farmers and food producers in the RSPCA Assured scheme at an RSPCA ‘farmers market’ event held at the Palace of Westminster last week.
Speaking at the event, where the RSPCA set out its own vision for the welfare of farm animals post-Brexit, Mr Gove said: “As we leave the European Union there are opportunities for us to go further and to improve the animal welfare standards that we have.
“If we insist on high environmental standards and high animal welfare standards that’s not just good in ethical terms, it’s good in business terms as well.”
The Environment Secretary said that the UK should compete at the top end of the market by producing the world’s best – rather than the cheapest - food.
He also acknowledged farmers’ special bond with their animals, their love for the land and their commitment to continuing to provide the UK with quality food, given the challenges faced by the farming profession. He said: “It is for that reason that the RSPCA’s work today in championing farmers who put animal welfare front and centre in everything they do is so important.”
The RSPCA warmly welcomed Mr Gove’s comments, agreeing that the way that the UK farms and the quality of the food it produces will be central to a successful Brexit – meaning that a vibrant, humane, sustainable farming sector will be crucial.