Politics

Remainer fearmongering DEFEATED: UK farmers protected as ministers move to protect sector

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Following extensive campaigning by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), a new system will be put into law meaning each new free trade deal will be scrutinised by Parliament for its impact on animal welfare and British farming before it is ratified.

According to the NFU, the Commission will be put on a full statutory footing and a report will be laid in Parliament before the start of a 21-day scrutiny period under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

This comes after more than one million people signed a petition calling for all food produced in the UK to be produced to the highest standards of production expected of UK farmers.

The move was welcomed by the NFU and their president, Minette Batters, who said it was a “landmark moment” for the people of Britain.

Ms Batters said: “This significant commitment to primary legislation on food standards, both in the Agriculture Bill and Trade Bill, is exactly what we have been calling for.

“It is a landmark moment for the people of the UK, for our countryside and the future of the food on our plates.

“This decision means everyone who cares about our trading relationships with the rest of the world – MPs, stakeholders and the public – will see independent expert advice from the Trade and Agriculture Commission on future trade deals before they are ratified.

“More than one million people signing our petition makes it one of the largest petitions this country has ever seen.”

Ms Batters goes on to say how she has met with the Prime Minister and said she is “delighted” he has committed to the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

She continued: “This all led to my recent meeting with Prime Minister in the House of Commons, where it was clear to me how much he personally cares about this issue.

“I am delighted that he has led the government to draw a line in the sand and commit to the 2019 Conservative manifesto commitment not to undermine our farmers in future trade deals by ensuring the Trade and Agriculture Commission can report to Parliament and MPs can give proper scrutiny to future trade deals.”

Despite the government’s U-turn on the likes of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef after Brexit, concerns still remain over future food standards.

David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project, said: “These are all little baby steps at this stage.

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“We have this language and pledges about chlorinated chicken, but we do not know what that actually means in trade policy terms.

“We can make the case against chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef by going around the world saying, ‘This is how we should do this’, but this is not how negotiations work.

“What we need is more than that.

“We need an actual trade policy. We still don’t have that.

“If it is going to be important to put animal welfare standards in our trade policy, then there has to be a debate about that in parliament, and we still haven’t had that.

“It’s not just that we don’t have legislation, we’re nit even at first base, which is have a trade policy.”

Critics have also slammed the process under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act dubbing it woefully inadequate for international trade deals.

Henry Dimbleby, the government’s food tsar, called for a parliamentary scrutiny process more robust that the current one.

He argued trade deals should be treated like legislation with full parliament debates and select committee reviews.

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