Farmers have welcomed a vote in the House of Lords on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, strengthening the role of the Trade and Agriculture Commission. If accepted this would bring in rules to ensure imported food meets the same standards that UK producers deliver, and may limit the ability of the US to import chlorinated chicken.
By a majority of 107 the House of Lords supported an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, put forward by Lord Curry, who is a farmer and former chair of the NFU Mutual. UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “If the amendment is approved by the House of Commons in October it would give the Commission new powers to give independent advice about the impact future trade deals would have on food and farming standards. It would then be up to parliament to decide whether to accept or reject the trade deal on offer.” Chestnutt added that the House of Lords had created an opportunity to bring about real change to the government’s post-Brexit plans for farming and food.
The UFU was part of a coalition of farming, environmental and animal welfare organisations pressing for safeguards around the quality of food imports, covering animal welfare, social, environmental and processing standards.
“The government must signal its support for UK farmers. If lower standard imports are allowed that would be an insult to the efforts of farmers who work hard to provide safe food that consumers can trust. It would be illegal for our farmers to produce food that does not meet UK production standards. That cannot be ignored to favour imports to buy trade deals after Brexit,” said the UFU president.
Vets also welcomed the vote. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said the clause would help protect UK animal welfare standards.
BVA, which represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, has previously urged the Government not to allow animal welfare standards to be compromised in pursuit of future trade deals.