Farmers demand greater scrutiny of post-Brexit food import deals
PUBLISHED: 15:48 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:07 09 September 2020
Farming leaders are calling for parliament to be given the final say on new trade deals which could have a “crucial” impact on East Anglian agriculture.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) made the plea on Back British Farming Day (September 9) – an annual campaign aiming to highlight the high standards of British farming, and the industry’s importance to our economy and environment.
The union has raised concerns over safeguarding those standards if cheaper, lower-quality goods are allowed to be imported under new trade deals.
With the Trade Bill being debated in the House of Lords this week, the NFU is calling for peers to amend the legislation so MPs will be given the final say on whether to ratify new trade agreements.
It is also urging peers to vote for an amendment which would require Parliament to hear independent advice from the new Trade and Agriculture Commission about the impact each deal will have on UK food and farming standards before it decides whether to accept or reject those agreements.
READ MORE: Don’t let trade deals undermine our great work, says Norfolk farmer
NFU president Minette Batters said: “We are at a pivotal time for the future of farming and the food on our plates. Nothing will determine this more than how the government shapes trade deals with countries around the world.
“There is no doubt that the countries we are currently negotiating with are demanding access to our prized market for their agriculture products and, right now, a trade agreement could be signed with little parliamentary scrutiny. This could result in a massive increase in the amount of food being imported that is produced in ways that would be illegal in this country.
“Politicians have time and time again stated that they will not allow this to happen. There is now a clear solution on the table that will allow Parliament to be kept fully informed of the impacts any trade deal will have on the food we all consume. Time is running out. Action has to be taken now or all the warm words will be for nothing.”
READ MORE: Post-Brexit trade deals will protect region’s farmers, minister pledges
Gary Ford, the NFU’s regional director for East Anglia, added: “With a crucial period coming up in politics it is more important than ever that we engage with MPs and seek their ongoing support for food and farming.
“There is no better example of where we need that support than in the ongoing trade discussions, the outcome of which will be crucial to East Anglian farmers.
“We continue to meet on a regular basis with regional MPs – last Friday being a good example where we met trade secretary Liz Truss on farm – and are grateful for their ongoing support for agriculture in East Anglia.”
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