Govt warned not to 'sacrifice' UK food standards for trade deals

Farm vets have called on the House of Lords to safeguard the future of British food and farming
Farm vets have called on the House of Lords to safeguard the future of British food and farming

Farm veterinary specialists have said the UK government should 'never be prepared to sacrifice' food safety in favour of Brexit trade deals.

Leaders from the farm veterinary sector have written to the House of Lords calling for Peers to reject the Agriculture Bill and return it to the House of Commons.

This follows the defeat last week of an amendment which would have protected animal welfare and food standards for imports entering Britain in any trade deals.

Nikki Hopkins, of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, Nick Perkins, the Goat Veterinary Society, and Nick Hart, the Sheep Veterinary Society, have urged Peers to 'lead the way'.

They want members of the Food, Poverty, Health and Environment Committee in particular to secure the opportunity to uphold animal welfare and back British farming.

In an open letter to the Lords, the organisations say they 'stand alongside' farmers in expressing disappointment at the rejection of the Agriculture Bill amendment.

"It is imperative that the UK maintains high standards of production and guarantees that imports produced to a lower welfare standard never reach shelves.

"The farming community is integral to the UK and without its existence many rural communities would cease to exist," the letter adds.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has emphatically highlighted the importance of food security and how UK production can rise to meet the most demanding challenges."

The vet groups say the Bill presents a 'prime opportunity' to ensure that the hard work and financial investment of the farming community is 'not in vain'.

"We cannot allow food produced to standards which have been illegal in this country for decades to freely enter this country," the open letter says.

"Given the exit from the EU, this opportunity is not only the best opportunity to support farming in this country, it may be the only one."