UFU continue to lobby for UK Agriculture Bill amendments on food standards

Wednesday, 7 October, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is supporting the proposal to insert Clause 49, the Lord Curry Amendment, into the UK Agriculture Bill. This would help safeguard the UK’s food standards for consumers and ensure that the UK farming sector is not unfairly undermined, whilst also giving government the ability to negotiate and sign trade agreements.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “While we have welcomed the government’s strong commitment that the UK’s food safety standards will not be lowered in future trade deals, the UFU is backing Clause 49 as it provides a sensible approach that can successfully deliver for consumers, farmers and government. The Agriculture Bill is the most important piece of legislation to come before Parliament for UK farming and it’s in the public’s interest to have an official policy in place that can maintain their food needs and expectations, while also protecting the integrity of our farmers and their competitiveness in the market.

“Our concerns about food standards extend beyond the ‘safety’ of the final product. While imports may appear to meet our food safety standards, production methods regarding the environment and animal welfare cannot be easily accounted for. Our UK farmers have set world leading standards in these areas of food production which are valued highly by our consumers. Production standards are not well catered for by international trade law therefore the UK must have policy in place to protect every aspect of the farm to fork food production process which this amendment can provide.

“Clause 49 will strengthen the independent Trade and Agriculture Commission by granting the independent body the ability to scrutinise all trade deals, including product standards and production standards. The Commission would advise Parliament on how specific deals would impact UK food and farming, and Parliament would have to consider the feedback provided by the Commission before signing any trade deal creating greater transparency.

“Clause 49 has benefits for all parties. It will ensure consumers have continued availability of high-quality food that is produced to UK standards or equivalent to and the competitiveness of our NI farmers will not be undermined. It will give MPs a more coherent role in trade deals without obstructing the government’s ability to negotiate new free trade agreements or pursuit of independent trade policy.”

The UFU has written to Northern Ireland (NI) MPs outlining the importance of the UK Agriculture Bill for the NI farming sector and how Clause 49 can deliver for consumers, government and farmers.