Thank you for contacting me about the Agriculture Bill, British farming and food standards. I have read your email carefully and have noted the key points that you make.
This Government remains in full support of the British farming industry and is committed not only to maintaining the animal welfare and environmental standards of our own agriculture but also securing that in any future trade agreements our high levels of food safety, animal welfare standards, and environmental protection are met by exporting farmers.
The Agriculture Bill will allow us to introduce ambitious new land management schemes in England where we can reward farmers and land managers who protect our environment, improve animal welfare and produce high quality food in a more sustainable way. Moreover, powers in the Agriculture Bill provide support for farmers to invest in equipment, technology and infrastructure to improve their productivity, as well as allowing for transparency in the supply chain to help British farmers to seek a fairer return from the marketplace.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/agriculture-bill-to-boost-environment-and-food-production
Outside of the EU, the UK will remain party to bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and others, and will continue to promote improved animal welfare standards internationally. An example of this is the consultation that will be carried out on restricting live animal journeys and bringing forward welfare conditions for these journeys where they are necessary.
You may also be interested to hear that the Government has recently launched a Trade and Agriculture Commission, consisting of retailers, farming unions, consumer, hospitality and environmental bodies from across the UK and chaired by a food safety expert. The Commission will ensure that there is close engagement between the Government and the agriculture industry to help inform, shape and guide agricultural trade policy. This Commission will give expert advice to the Government regarding the policies it should adopt in free trade agreements to make sure that our high food and environmental standards are not undermined.
We are a nation of animal lovers whereby British consumers rightly want and expect high quality produce. The Government has been clear that it will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure that any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers, and that if our trading partners want to break into the UK market, they should expect to meet those standards. Primary legislation in the U.K. will not always be the best way to achieve this, but, as I understand it, every future proposed trade deal has a Parliamentary ‘safety lock’ in that Parliament has the right to veto any proposed deal.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about this important issue.
With best wishes,
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking