Ministers urged to protect UK farmers in trade deals
Farming organisations are calling on the Government to stand up for the interests of UK farmers as free trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand reach an advanced stage.
NFU president Minette Batters called on ministers to ensure any trade-offs were balanced, saying: “There is a very real risk that, if we get it wrong, UK farming will suffer irreversible damage rather than flourish in the way we all desire, to the detriment of our environment, our food security and our rural communities.”
Responding to press reports that ministers are considering zero tariff market access for agricultural products in the UK-Australia free trade agreement negotations, Wales’ rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “We are extremely proud of the high food safety standards we have here in Wales, including standards around animal health and welfare, traceability, environment and food safety.
“No trade agreement should ever undermine that or our domestic legislation and the Welsh Government has consistently made this point to the UK Government.”
NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker said: “Increased volumes of lamb from anywhere coming into the UK would have two likely outcomes, firstly it would either look to displace other imported lamb, or secondly it would look to displace domestic supply. The former would result in a price war driving prices down, and the latter would lead to a crazy situation of the UK exporting a high value and high-priced product, and then importing a cheaper one to feed our nation. Neither situation is acceptable and, working with others on the UK Farming Roundtable the NSA is urgently reminding ministers of their commitments to safeguard and protect Britain’s sheep industry.
“It is hugely significant that the high standards applied to lamb production in the UK are equalled by any trading partner in order to maintain a viable domestic market. The welfare levels achieved by our farmers here in the UK should not be compromised by different levels in order to complete a trade deal.”