SCOTTISH Government ministers wrote to the UK Government after finding out about possible trade negotiations with the US through media reports.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon and trade minister Richard Lochhead said that the Scottish Government had not been involved in discussions about potential trade negotiations between the US and UK governments.

They added that “media reports will most certainly be of acute concern to our farming communities”, and that it was “particularly concerning” that the Scottish Government was only hearing of discussions through the media.

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The ministers wrote jointly to UK Environment Secretary Therese Coffey (below) and trade minister Nigel Huddleston to outline the Scottish Government’s opposition to any relaxation of food safety and animal welfare standards.

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The letter asks that Scottish Ministers are fully involved in the UK Government’s activity in relation to trading arrangements with the United States.

The letter went on to say: “We are writing to highlight the Scottish Government’s serious concerns about recent media reports of the possibility of the UK Government negotiating a ‘foundational trade partnership’ with the United States of America.

“This prospective arrangement reportedly covers topics such as digital trade, labour protections and agriculture.”

Ms Gougeon and Mr Lochhead said it was “particularly concerning” that the Scottish Government was only hearing of this now from the media and that “media reports will most certainly be of acute concern to our farming communities”.

The letter stated that the Scottish Government recognised the benefits to trade and investment of building relationships with the US.

Both ministers said they would be “extremely disappointed” if the UK Government had been “working on plans” to deepen the trading relationship with the US without any involvement of Scottish ministers.

The letter also stated: “However, it is the potential, practical effects of such an arrangement on Scottish farming and food interests which concern us the most.

“As already mentioned, the Scottish Government, and many of our agricultural exporters, view the United States as an important destination for our food and drink produce, but we must not forget that it is our reputation for safety and quality that makes our exports so highly sought after in the first place.”

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The letter argued that any “relaxing” of the opposition to hormone-treated beef, GM crops and chlorine washed chicken would be “especially egregious”.

The ministers added: “In light of consumer opposition in Scotland to the use of such treatments, we would find this completely unacceptable.”

This comes after the president of the National Farmers Union called Jacob Reese Mogg “morally bankrupt” over his call for “hormone-injected beef from Australia” to be sold in the UK.

The ministers added: “The Scottish Government remains committed to engaging constructively throughout any negotiation with the United States.

“However, this engagement can be too easily undermined when questions are raised through media reporting of this kind, particularly if there is any degree of truth to the story.

“To avoid this, I ask that you and your officials now commit to involving Scottish ministers and officials fully with regard to the UK Government’s plans for improving trading conditions with the United States going forward, and so that the veracity of any media reports can be gauged without creating undue concern between our administrations.” 

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK and US are rapidly expanding the work we do together across the full spectrum of our economic, technological, commercial and trade relations through the Atlantic Declaration.

"Discussions with the US on next steps under this first-of-its-kind agreement are ongoing.”