Farming News - Call to back British food & farming standards as Agriculture Bill returns to Parliament

Call to back British food & farming standards as Agriculture Bill returns to Parliament

Sustain - the alliance for better food and farming has been lending their support to a group of British farmers who are calling on Members of Parliament to back British food and farming standards when the Agriculture Bill returns to the House of Commons today. 

Some of Britain’s best-known farmers, including Channel 4 presenter and Rare Breeds Survival Trust patron Jimmy Doherty, are calling on MPs to back British food and farming standards ahead of the vote.

Vicki Hird, head of farm policy at Sustain said:  

"Failing to protect UK food standards could push UK farmers and workers out of business, leaving them with no livelihood. It is baffling that a UK government would even contemplate doing this, let alone in the middle of a pandemic and as the Brexit deadline looms.  

"Farmers are rightly angry and are demanding that their MPs back them in the Commons. UK consumers have also made their views known; millions of them have contacted their MPs or signed petitions demanding their food standards be written into law. All of which begs the question, just who does Number 10 think will benefit from a drop in food standards and the direct loss of thousands of farm jobs and livelihoods? Voters will want to know and are unlikely to forget by the next election."

Joe Stanley, a farmer from Leicestershire and signatory of the letter said "Our food standards matter to each of us three times per day; there's no more intimate commodity. Don't accept your MP voting to open the flood gates to the dregs of the global food system, to inundate our homes, schools and hospitals with food it would be illegal to produce here."

Hundreds of farmers have signed the open letter online and contacted their MPs asking them not to vote to open the flood gates with food it would be illegal to produce here in the UK.  

The open letter said:-

Dear Members of Parliament,

We are a group of farmers calling on MPs to enshrine our environment, animal welfare and food standards that we are proud to work to, in the Agriculture Bill.

Various trade and legal experts have said it is possible to follow international trade laws and restrict low-quality imports. The government should explore this route. We also know that farmers in developing nations already trade with us on our terms and that high standards are good for all parties involved. We should not sign trade deals that encourage a race to the bottom for farmers anywhere.

Importing low-quality agri-food products presents the prospect of pushing British farmers over the cliff-edge and further degrading the environment. Neither we nor the public want this, as repeated surveys and petitions have shown.

By enshrining standards into law, MPs will be providing the bedrock from which British farmers and food producers can build a more sustainable and thriving future. Surely this is something that you want to champion.

Helen Browning OBE (Bishopstone, Wiltshire)
Jake Fiennes (Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk)
Hannah Jackson (Croglin, Cumbria)
Joe Stanley (Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire)
Alastair Leake (Loddington, Rutland)
Daniel Burdett (Haywards Heath, West Sussex)
Helen and James Rebanks (Penrith, Cumbria)
Patrick Holden CBE (Ceredigion, Wales)
Neil Heseltine (Malham, Yorkshire Dales)
Jim Beary (Peak District, South Yorkshire)
Jimmy Doherty (Ipswich, Suffolk)
Fidelity Weston (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Martin Lines (Cambridgeshire farmer and Chair, Nature Friendly Farming Network)