UK row over future food, farming and trade rumbles on as Lords amends Agriculture Bill

Torri Donley

Two key amendments to the Government’s controversial Agriculture Bill were voted on by peers last night. The first, proposed by Lord Granchester, sought a ‘requirement for agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards’. The second, from Lord Curry, aimed to strengthen the powers of the newly-established Trade and Agriculture […]

Two key amendments to the Government’s controversial Agriculture Bill were voted on by peers last night. The first, proposed by Lord Granchester, sought a ‘requirement for agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards’. The second, from Lord Curry, aimed to strengthen the powers of the newly-established Trade and Agriculture Commission and give MPs greater scrutiny of its recommendations in relation to future trade deals.

Both proposals sought to address concerns that British food standards could be sacrificed on the alter of future trade agreements after Brexit.

Campaign to ‘protect’ UK standards 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has faced a sustained campaign to protect British food and farming from being undercut by free trade deals that allow products produced to weaker standards to enter the market.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has been a vocal proponent of efforts to protect the country’s ‘high farming standards’ after Brexit. This has included coordinating a joint letter – signed by a broad coalition of farming, environmental and animal welfare organisations – calling on Johnson stand by his commitment not to ‘prejudice or jeopardise our standards of animal welfare or food hygiene’. This was followed up by a petition to take food standards off the negotiating table during trade talks, which was signed by more than a million people​.

Under this pressure, in June, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss confirmed the ​establishment of the Trade and Agriculture Commission​.

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