RURAL affairs ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland have written to the UK Government raising concerns about the impact of the Australia trade deal on domestic farmers and producers.

In a joint letter to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, the two administrations say the deal also sets a “very damaging precedent” for future trade agreements.

Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, announced the post-Brexit trade deal earlier this month.

However UK farmers have expressed fear they could be undercut by meat from Australia.

The Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon and her Northern Ireland Executive counterpart Edwin Poots have written a joint letter seeking further clarity on the deal.

They highlight they have not seen much of the details and want to be consulted on remaining issues which have yet to be agreed.

They are seeking urgent discussions on the deal at a meeting with Defra officials tomorrow.

The letter says: “We have previously stressed to you, and remain extremely concerned following the recent announcement, that the UK Government is signing up to a deal that would lead to a sustained increase in imports of Australian agri-food and produced to lesser standards in relation to animal welfare and future environmental commitments.

“As you know, agriculture and food standards are devolved responsibilities.

“We have been clear that where there is an increase in imports of Australian agri-food, this must be managed by tariff rate quotas that are not eroded over time.”

It continues: “We are also concerned by the size of the quotas which after 15 years equate to 16% of UK beef consumption and 49% of UK sheep meat consumption.

“Clearly if Australian exports reach anything close to these levels, we can expect a very significant negative impact on our agri-food sector.

“We are not reassured about claims that Australia will not be exporting significant amounts of beef to the UK or is seeking to replace imports from other countries.

“Australia is a very significant beef exporter and has the potential to increase exports further with a view to targeting the UK market.”

It adds they have “little faith” concerns around animal welfare standards are being taken seriously.