Economy

Farmers stage Westminster tractor protest over threat to British food standards

Farmers stage Westminster tractor protest over threat to British food standards”

For the government, environment minister Victoria Prentis said ministers will not change English law on import standards "under any circumstances".

Speaking as Lords amendments to the Bill were considered, senior Tory Neil Parish said the legislation is heading in the right direction but the United Kingdom should be a "great beacon" on animal welfare and the environment when negotiating future trade deals.

The effort was struck down by 332 votes to 279.

Conservative MPs in Wales have been accused of "betraying farmers" after they voted against protecting food standards after Brexit.

The Government has rejected amendments to the Agriculture Bill that would have protected farmers from imports produced to standards not permitted by law in the United Kingdom, under future trade deals.

"Could the Government please explain why it appears that California is able to ban food products produced by what we regard as cruel means in other states of the United States of America, but that we somehow have difficulty in doing the same in deciding our new rules?"

Neil Parish, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, told the Commons that Brexit meant United Kingdom agriculture could move in a "much more environmental direction", including planting more trees and cutting the use of nitrates.

Campaigners have warned the United Kingdom could be forced to accept lower standards to secure a future USA trade deal.

"The amendment was supported by the NFU and RSPCA alongside many other organisations".

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The amendment was designed by the Lords and would force the United Kingdom to include a clause in all post-Brexit trade deals, stating that the United Kingdom would only import goods produced in line with its own rules on animal welfare, the environment and food safety.

While much the debate covered the high-profile issues of chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef, a number of MPs in favour of the amendments highlighted the significant differences in standards of production between United Kingdom and USA pork, notably the continued use of sow stalls in the US.

Mr Parish added: "We, the British, believe in animal welfare, we believe in the environment.so does this Government, but for goodness sake getting the backing of Parliament".

'I hope a continued stand on this issue will encourage the Government to put our manifesto commitment to maintain United Kingdom standards on to the statute book'.

They argued these changes were necessary to make it impossible for the USA or other countries to export so-called chlorinated chicken or beef fattened with hormones. "It's what consumers have repeatedly said they want". That is the law of this land.

"This ambition goes hand-in-glove with the United Kingdom government's own manifesto commitment not to compromise the UK's standards of animal welfare and environmental protection".

"We have a range of tools to protect us, we have the existing regulation, we have parliamentary scrutiny which I detailed earlier, including the select committee which I for one think is significant".

"The Government must act now to prove they are not preparing to ride roughshod over the opinion of the British people, the hard-won animal welfare standards in this country and the livelihoods of British farmers".

British farmers protested outside of Parliament this week insisting that food standards should not drop post-Brexit.



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