NFU wants MPs’ input on trade deals

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

NFU president Minette Batters wants MPs to be able to scrutinise trade deals
NFU president Minette Batters wants MPs to be able to scrutinise trade deals

Related tags: Brexit

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging ministers to give Parliament a say on how future trade deals will impact British food and farming.

The move comes as the Trade Bill is being debated in the House of Lords this week. The NFU is calling for peers to vote for an amendment to the Bill so Parliament will have the final say on whether to ratify new trade agreements. 

The NFU also wants Parliament to have independent advice about the impact every trade deal will have on food and farming standards before deciding whether to accept or reject any deals. 

NFU is calling for MPs to protect British farming’s global standards in sustainable, climate-friendly food production and not to undermine them in the pursuit of free trade. The union has published a new report that showcases these high standards.

In May the Government voted against an amendment to the UK’s Agriculture Bill that would have guaranteed high standards for food and drink entering the country post-Brexit​.

In June, the Government announced it would set up a Trade & Agriculture Commission​ to help protect British farmers and the body was set up in July. 

Independent advice 

According to NFU an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, put forward by Lord Curry in the House of Lords, would give this duty of independent advice to the new Commission. 

NFU president Minette Batters said: “We are at a pivotal time for the future of farming and the food on our plates. Nothing will determine this more than how the government shapes trade deals with countries around the world.

“No doubt the countries we are currently negotiating with are demanding access to our prized market for their agriculture products and, right now, a trade agreement could be signed with little parliamentary scrutiny. This could result in a massive increase in the amount of food being imported that is produced in ways that would be illegal in this country.” 

She added that politicians “time and time again” had stated they would allow this to happen.

‘Time is running out’

“Time is running out,” ​she warned. “Action has to be taken now or all the warm words will be for nothing.”

“Today ​[9 September] is Back British Farming day and we want to celebrate why the British public have complete trust in British food and the farmers that produce it.

“Our farm to fork approach to traceability, how we look after our animals and our environment, and how we lead the world in reducing antibiotic usage are all the envy of the world and yet they are in jeopardy if they are undermined by future trade deals.”

Related topics: Supply Chain, Fresh produce, Brexit

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