On Wednesday 13th May, the Conservative MP for North Devon voted against an amendment to protect the interests of farmers in North Devon.
The most important piece of farming legislation to come before parliament in decades included an amendment which sought to protect UK farmers from low-standard food imports. The amendment also sought to prevent a future trade deal from allowing food into the UK not produced to the standards required of UK Farmers.
Ms Saxby voted against change in the bill which would have guaranteed a ban on US chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef.
NFU President Minette Batters described the bill as 'one of the most significant pieces of legislation for farmers in England for over 70 years'. Clearly, the Conservative MP for North Devon disagrees with this expert.
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.
Alex White, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson for North Devon, was outraged:
"As someone who grew up in North Devon, I understand how much of a hit this is to North Devon Farmers. Farmers who are not only worried about foreign imports undercutting their prices and risking their livelihoods, but also selflessly worrying about the poor quality of the food that will be imported. I'm reminded again that Saxby isn’t in touch with the North Devon community. She isn't from here, she doesn’t understand the needs of North Devonians and she disregards our opinions to vote in line with the government every single time. It is increasingly clear that this is Westminster's voice in North Devon, and not North Devon's voice in Westminster. It simply isn’t good enough."
Whilst some parties were split on this vote, all Liberal Democrat MPs voted for the amendment which would have secured farmers' futures.
North Devon farmers now wait anxiously to see what follows in this turbulent time for agriculture.
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