UK farmers ‘disappointed’ as House of Commons rejects Ag Bill amendment

A farm organisation in the UK has announced its disappointment following the UK House of Commons Agriculture Bill debate – during which MPs rejected an amendment which aimed to rule out foreign food imports which don’t meet UK welfare and environmental standards.

As the UK is leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Agricultural Bill provides the legislative framework for replacement agricultural support schemes.

However, an amendment was tabled by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Neil Parish for the bill to only allow the importation of agricultural goods if the standards are as high or higher than UK standards for animal welfare, environmental protection, food safety, hygiene and traceability.

This amendment was defeated, with 277 votes for, versus 328 votes against.

Welsh farm organisation NFU Cymru responded with significant disappointment to the Agriculture Bill debate, which was held yesterday, Wednesday, May 13.

Commenting on yesterday afternoon’s development, NFU Cymru president John Davies said:

“We have been at the heart of a broad coalition of farming, consumer, environmental and animal welfare organisations from across the UK that has been making the case for upholding high standards in any future trade deals that the UK makes with third countries.

Unfortunately, without this amendment, the bill lacks any formal requirement to uphold our farming production standards as we negotiate trade deals and in our general trade policy.

“The bill should ensure that agri-food imports are produced to at least equivalent environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards as those required of producers in the UK – otherwise the very real risk is that we will see our farmers undermined by agri-food products produced to standards which would be illegal here,” the president said.

Davies concluded: “We cannot have a trade policy which requires our farmers to compete against food produced to lower standards.

“Regrettably the bill will now leave the House of Commons without the amendments that we would like to have seen, so we will now focus our lobbying efforts on securing the amendments that we need to see at the House of Lords stages.”