Devon Liberal Democrats have launched a petition calling on the Government not to sign a trade deal with the USA that would expose British farmers to cheap food imports, lower UK animal welfare and food production standards and damage the environment. The call is supported by North Devon Liberal Democrats who earlier this month wrote of the North Devon MP voting against an amendment to support food standards and British farmers.
Currently the UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but if the UK gives in to Trump's demands it would allow practices currently banned in the UK such as producing eggs from battery hens, chlorine washing of chicken and treating cattle and pigs with growth hormones. This wouldn't be good for Devon, our farmers, or consumers.
It would also mean:
- British farmers having to compete against cheaper imports that have been produced to a lower welfare standard, putting many UK farmers out of business.
- The British public eating meat, eggs and dairy products produced to lower animal welfare standards than are currently allowed.
- An increase in food miles and greenhouse gases because of import distances and the intensive farming systems in the USA.
Shamefully, the Tory MP for North Devon did not support a recent amendment to the UK Agriculture Bill which would have stood up to the Trump administration and guaranteed the preservation of British standards. They have let Devon down badly.
The Bill is now in the Lords for its second reading.
The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for North Devon, Alex White, explained:
"This is yet another example of this MP being out of touch with the North Devon population. We love our farms, farmers and quality produce here. I'll be urging as many people as possible to sign this petition to protect food standards and the livelihoods of farmers."
Brexit requires the UK to have a new agricultural policy, and this will be defined in large part by the Agriculture Bill. Whilst many figures including the NFU seeing this as an opportunity to be leaders on the global stage; some MPs evidently see the bill as a race to the bottom. It’s a move that worries the National Farmers Union, British Veterinary Association and 25 other groups, including the RSPCA; Wildlife Trust; WWF and more.
Tim Farron, Lib Dem spokesperson for Food and Rural Affairs said:
“The UK has the best standards in the world, and they will be completely irrelevant if we allow ministers to strike trade deals that lead to imported goods with lower production, animal welfare, environmental & labour standards.”