The FUW has welcomed a call by MPs which would see the introduction of legislation to protect UK food production standards whilst future trade deals are negotiated.
When responding to the Public Bills Committee call for written evidence on the UK Agriculture Bill, the Farmers’ Union of Wales outlined concerns that the Bill does not introduce means by which to prevent the importation of food produced to environmental, animal welfare and other production standards which fall short of those legally required of UK farmers. The union added that failure to prevent the importation of food produced to lower standards would not only compromise UK businesses required to operate under more costly regimes, but also result in a net fall in environmental and animal welfare standards, as production from countries with lower standards would be favoured.
The FUW was pleased to see the call for an amendment to the Agriculture Bill following an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee hearing and in response to the evidence provided. However, according to Defra Minister, Victoria Prentis, in comments made during a March session of the Public Bill Committee examining the Agricultural Bill, such an amendment would create a large degree of uncertainty over current imports and whether they could continue.
At present, the UK Government US Free Trade Agreement document states that the FTA “will include not compromising on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”. The FUW continues to stress the high animal welfare and environmental regulations adhered to by domestic producers and believes that future trade deals should recognise and protect such production.