‘Risk’ that food standards will be lowered by imports, says NSA – Darlington and Stockton Times

Posted: October 18, 2020 at 11:59 pm

THE National Sheep Association (NSA) has voiced concerns following the rejection by the House of Commons on a Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would force future trade deals to meet UK animal welfare and food safety rules.

The vote, which saw MPs reject the amendment by 332 votes to 279, will potentially allow food products with lower standards than that produced in the UK to be accepted into the country once new trade deals are secured following the UKs departure from the EU.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: This amendment provided an opportunity to uphold and protect our animal welfare standards, some of the highest in the world.

"With this being rejected by MPs last night, there is now the very real risk, despite Governments assurances, that the UKs standards that our nations farmers are proud to work to, could be undermined by lower standard imports.

The Government may have already given a verbal commitment to farmers and consumers that the current high UK standards will not be threatened by imported goods but even if this commitment is upheld, it comes from the current Government only and therefore is for the present Parliamentary term, four years down the line there is a risk this commitment could be lost and the UK farming sector could be left to fight this battle again.

Farming Minister George Eustice has said that the amendment was unnecessary and would be opposed by ministers as it could cause technical issues and disrupt existing trade deals with countries such as South America that already bring small amounts of product into the UK.

Mr Stocker said: Any suggestion by the Government that importing just relatively small quantities of lower standard products is worth it in order to safeguard other trade flies in the face of the UKs stated aim to see animal welfare standards increase across the world.

"We simply will not achieve this if we allow our markets to support standards we wouldnt find acceptable here.

We sincerely hope the British public will get behind the countrys farmers more than ever now in supporting their hard work producing the highest quality, good value farm produce, while caring for their livestock and upholding animal welfare standards at all times.

"As we leave the EU and further trade deals are secured, it will be more important than ever to support UK agriculture and buy British to be assured of food traceability and quality.

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'Risk' that food standards will be lowered by imports, says NSA - Darlington and Stockton Times

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