Agricultural Blog

Agriculture Bill must maintain safeguarding rules for imported goods

MPs from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee have insisted that the Government’s Agriculture Bill is amended to ensure imported goods meet current rules for production, animal welfare and the environment.

The Committee came to this conclusion after it questioned Environment Secretary Michael Gove in October about the Bill and its failure to stop products such as chlorinated chicken from entering the UK.

Following the hearing, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) endorsed the Committee’s conclusion, saying that farming in the UK “operates to some of the highest standards in the world”. The spokesperson added that it is vital that this is not undermined after Brexit. Mr Gove said he agreed with the Committee but felt that the proposed changes to future trade deals fell outside the scope of the Bill.

In its report, the Committee has called on the Government to “put its money where its mouth is” and accept an amendment to the Bill, which stipulates that food products imported as part of any future trade deal must at least meet British standards.

Farm leaders have long warned that food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK should not be allowed into the country after Brexit. These include hormone-produced beef and chlorine-washed chicken, both of which are currently banned in the UK.

As a spokesman for the Committee pointed out, without sufficient safeguards, farmers in the UK could be significantly undermined. Therefore, the suggested amendment calls for the production of imported agricultural goods to meet current UK standards.

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