Farmers make final bid for government to protect post-Brexit food standards

Farmers in tractors take part in a protest over food and farming standards, organised by Save Britis

Farmers in tractors take part in a protest over food and farming standards, organised by Save British Farming (SBF), Westminster, London, on the day the amended Agricultural Bill returns to the House of Commons. - Credit: PA

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called on parliament to adopt an amendment to the Agriculture Bill which they say will protect UK food standards in future trade deals.

The government won a vote in the Commons last week to reject the House of Lords amendment to the bill which would have required agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.

NFU president Minette Batters wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “I hope that parliament will, next week, put the Agriculture Bill to bed, accept Lord Curry’s amendment to strengthen the Trade and Agriculture Commission, provide a legal basis from which to operate and give MPs the role in agreeing our future trade deals.”

Boris Johnson spoke to Batters after the government won the vote last week and made “a cast-iron commitment not to undermine Britain’s farmers in trade deals”, she added.

“Having spoken to trade secretary Liz Truss and George Eustice, the environment and food secretary, I believe they mean it when they say they want our post-Brexit policies to boost British farming.”

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Peers suggested the amendment to block the import of foodstuffs produced abroad with lower animal welfare standards, amid warnings over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

Several Conservative MPs also outlined their support for the Lords amendment, with the division list showing 14 rebelled in an attempt to retain it – including former environment secretary Theresa Villiers and Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross.

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But it was stripped from the bill following the vote on Monday.

The government has argued that existing protections are already in place and they have no intention of watering them down.

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