The Agriculture Bill is the best opportunity we have had to reform farming policy in more than 50 years. Agriculture Bill is a unique chance to restore abundant wildlife and ensure healthy farmland that can support food production into the future.
The NFU has convened a coalition of farming, environmental and animal welfare organisations to urge politicians to ensure the new Agriculture Bill safeguards animal welfare and environmental protection standards of imported goods.
Ban on cheaply produced low-quality food imports in post-Brexit trade deals.
Jamie Oliver called everyone to sign the petition of NFU to support the British farmers and foods on his Instagram account on the last weekend. Also, he wrote a letter to PM Boris Johnston. He noted “the floodgates to a whole raft of low-quality food that would normally be illegal in the UK. Chlorinated chicken is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking about genetically modified food, stuffing animals full of hormones and antibiotics, banned pesticides that kill our bees, and an avalanche of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar… The UK is blessed with some of the best food producers in the world – something we should value and protect – yet we currently produce only 53 per cent of our veg and 16 per cent of our fresh fruit. Our climate is perfectly suited to growing produce, so we could easily grow more, not only for ourselves but for export, too.”
You can read the details of the Agriculture Bill letter, here.
I want the food I eat to be produced to world leading standards by the Agriculture Bill
MP’s rejected the amendments in the agriculture bill last week and that started its journey through parliament. As the bill goes to the House of Lords for a second reading, the NFU and consumers say they want the government should take second session to ensure that any future trade policy ensures that goods imported under a free trade agreement are produced to as high or higher standards of animal welfare, environmental protection, food hygiene and plant health, as are currently applied under UK law.
Minette Batters, president of the NFU, said “We are at a make-or-break moment for British farming. We have the chance to become a global leader in climate-friendly farming, and neither farmers nor the public want to see that ambition fall by the wayside because our trade policy does not hold food imports to the same standards as are expected of our own farmers.”
What is Agriculture Bill and why it is important?
The Agriculture Bill will provide the framework for the establishment of a new legislation of agricultural for farmers and producers by providing fairly broad powers to current and future governments to provide financial assistance and make other policy interventions. The 2020 Bill has addressed a large number of the concerns held by the NFU with the Bill first published in 2018 under the previous government administration.
Food security will be reported by the government
The most significant improvements relate to the inclusion of provisions on Food Security. The government will be required to report on the state of the nation’s food security every 5 years.
The Agriculture Bill also requires government to establish annual financial programmes. This is not the same as a fixed multi-annual financial budget like we see before.
The government will be compelled to “take regard to the need to encourage the production of food by producers in England and its production by them in an environmentally sustainable way.”
This Bill is a very significant piece of legislation for English farmers. It also includes provisions to support productivity improvements, fairness in the supply chain, assistance during times of exceptional market disturbance, the collection and sharing of data, organic farming and the repatriation of red meat levy funds.
Grey areas on trade and import standards are bothering
The most concerning is a lack of assurance around trade policies and import standards. Farming and environment organisations speak with one voice when we say that it is crucial that imports of food under future trade policies are held to UK standards.