British farmers urge MPs to back plans to enshrine food standards in law as they warn importing ‘low quality’ items like chlorinated chicken under post-Brexit trade deals could ‘force them out of business’
- Group of prominent farmers writing to every MP ahead of crunch vote next week
- Group wants Government to enshrine food and animal welfare standards in law
- Farmers fear post-Brexit trade deals could open the door to ‘low quality’ imports
Boris Johnson is under pressure from farmers to enshrine UK food standards in law amid growing fears post-Brexit trade deals could open the door to ‘low quality’ imports like chlorinated chicken.
A group of prominent farmers, which includes TV presenter Jimmy Doherty and chief executive of the Soil Association Helen Browning, is writing to every MP ahead of a crunch vote in the House of Commons next week.
The group wants current British standards on things like animal welfare and hygiene to be written onto the statute book so that UK farmers cannot be undermined in future trade deals.
The group has warned that allowing controversial products like chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-injected beef to be imported from the US under a new trade deal ‘could force British farmers out of business’.
It came as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expected a trade deal between the UK and Canada to be ‘fairly straightforward’.
Boris Johnsin is under mounting pressure to enshrine UK food standards in law to protect farmers in post-Brexit trade deal negotiations
A group of farmers, including TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, is writing to every MP to urge them to vote to put the standards onto the statute book
The Government is resisting calls to enshrine food standards in law, with ministers arguing such a move is unnecessary because they have no intention of letting the current processes be undermined.
Ministers have also claimed that writing the standards into law could make it more difficult for developing nations to export to the UK.
However, farmers are adamant that the standards should be put on the statute book to protect them in future trade discussions with countries which have lower standards than Britain.
In a letter to The Times, the group said: ‘We should not sign trade deals that encourage a race to the bottom for farmers anywhere.
‘Importing low-quality agri-food products could force British farmers out of business as well as further degrade the environment.
‘Neither we nor the public want this, as several surveys and petitions have shown.
‘By enshrining our existing standards in law, MPs can provide a bedrock from which British farmers and food producers can build a more sustainable and thriving future.’
An amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would have bolstered protections for food standards was voted down earlier this month.
But the legislation is due back in the Commons next week with MPs expected to be asked to vote on an amendment which would force the Government to seek equivalence on food standards during trade negotiations.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he believes a trade deal between the UK and Canada will be ‘fairly straightforward’ to agree
The group of farmers is sending a letter to every MP today amid fears that they do not yet have enough votes to win.
The row over food standards came as Mr Trudeau said he believed a trade deal with the UK would be easy to agree.
Addressing an EU-Canada videosummit with the presidents of the European Commission and Council, Mr Trudeau said: ‘There are significant complexities that the UK is grappling with in terms of negotiating the post-Brexit agreement with the European Union.
‘I can highlight that it’s fairly straightforward with Canada and we are certainly very optimistic in the ability to see things roll over smoothly.’
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