NFU Cymru has responded with significant disappointment to today’s Agriculture Bill debate, at which an amendment relating to food standards in future trade deals was rejected by MPs.
Commenting on this afternoon’s development, NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “NFU Cymru has been fighting hard on the standards issue for a long time now. 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.
“Although this amendment has not been successful today, I’m really grateful for the support we’ve had so far on the standards issue from MPs and politicians across the political spectrum. It’s also been really encouraging to have been able to unite such a wide coalition of organisations around this cause, something I know also resonates very strongly with the public who rightly expect that food standards will be maintained.”
Mr 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.”