A COMMISSION advising the Government on trade policies to adopt to secure new opportunities for UK farmers is being put on a statutory footing, it has been announced.

The remit of the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC), which represents UK farmers, retailers and consumers, is being extended past its previous fixed term.

The Government’s decision to give the commission a “more active role through a new legislative underpinning”, to be reviewed every three years, will give “farmers a stronger voice in UK trade policy”, the Department for International Trade (DIT) said.

The TAC was originally launched for six months in July, hearing from experts on farming, animal welfare, the environment and trade.

It will produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal the Government signs after the end of the EU transition period on January 1 2021, the DIT said.

This will be laid in Parliament before the start of the 21-day scrutiny period under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

A TAC report on trade policies to guard against undermining animal welfare, food production and environmental standards is due to be published in February next year.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “I will never sign up to anything that threatens their (farmers’) ability to compete, or that undermines their high standards.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice added: “By putting the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a statutory footing, we are ensuring that the voices of our farmers, as well as those of consumers and key environmental and animal welfare groups, continue to be heard while we are in the process of scrutinising future trade deals.”

The Government tabled an amendment on Friday to the Agriculture Bill, due to come back to the Commons on Wednesday, to increase parliamentary scrutiny of free trade agreements.

The amendment will place a duty on the Government to report to Parliament on “whether, or to what extent, commitments in new free trade agreements (FTAs) relating to agricultural goods are consistent with maintaining UK levels of statutory protection in relation to human, animal and plant life and health, animal welfare and environmental protection”, the DIT said.

The TAC will be put on statutory footing in the Trade Bill.

NFU President Minette Batters hailed the announcement as a "landmark moment" for the country.

“This significant commitment to primary legislation on food standards, both in the Agriculture Bill and Trade Bill, is exactly what we have been calling for," said Ms Batters. "It is a landmark moment for the people of the UK, for our countryside and the future of the food on our plates."

“This decision means everyone who cares about our trading relationships with the rest of the world – MPs, stakeholders and the public – will see independent expert advice from the Trade and Agriculture Commission on future trade deals before they are ratified.

“More than one million people signing our petition makes it one of the largest petitions this country has ever seen. Together with support from all farming organisations, animal welfare experts, environmental NGOs, politicians, some of the greatest chefs and celebrities in the country, including Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks, and then backed by the Mail on Sunday’s campaign to save our family farms, has created an unprecedented coalition.

“This all led to my recent meeting the Prime Minster in the House of Commons, where it was clear to me how much he personally cares about this issue. I am delighted that he has led the government to draw a line in the sand and commit to the 2019 Conservative manifesto commitment not to undermine our farmers in future trade deals by ensuring the Trade and Agriculture Commission can report to Parliament and MPs can give proper scrutiny to future trade deals."

“I look forward to working with the government building on our iconic British Brand reputation for high quality, healthy, sustainable British food at home and abroad.”