MPs urged to back Lord Curry's Ag Bill amendment

Farming groups are urging MPs to back crucial amendments as the Agriculture Bill returns to MPs next week
Farming groups are urging MPs to back crucial amendments as the Agriculture Bill returns to MPs next week

Farmers are urging MPs to back the Agriculture Bill's Lord Curry amendment as it would 'safeguard' UK food and farming standards.

Clause 49, known as the Lord Curry amendment, seeks to strengthen the independent Trade and Agriculture Commission, which was launched in July.

It would grant 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 farming, and parliament would have to consider the feedback provided before signing any trade deal, creating greater transparency.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it was supporting the amendment as it would ensure the UK farming sector was not 'unfairly undermined'.

The union has written to Northern Irish MPs explaining how Clause 49 can deliver for consumers, government and farmers.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: "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."

He said farmers in Northern Ireland had concerns that extended beyond the 'safety' of the final product - namely production standards and methods.

"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," Mr Chestnutt said.

"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."

He added that Clause 49 would also ensure consumers had continued availability of high-quality food that was produced to UK standards or equivalent.

Mr Chesnutt said: "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 House of Lords have returned the Bill to the House of Commons with amendments, which will be considered by MPs on Monday 12 October.