We support our Government’s pledged commitment to ensure the UK’s animal welfare and environmental standards are not undermined by lower welfare imports produced in ways which would be illegal in the UK when negotiating new trade agreements with countries around the world.
As the Government discusses key trade negotiations, it is paramount that we do not compromise our existing standards. Our manifesto commitment states that, “in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”.
We call for MPs to support and vote for the Lords Amendment No.16 to the Agriculture Bill which reflects the undertakings given in the Conservative Manifesto to maintain our food safety, environmental and animal welfare standards in the UK’s future trade agreements. It is vital to our integrity that animal welfare and environmental standards are not lowered.
Lords Amendment 16, supported by the Chairman of the Agricultural Select Committee, is not, as has been suggested, an attempt to frustrate Brexit. It is a highly important addition designed to uphold and protect our animal welfare and environmental standards as we head into trade deals. We must protect UK farmers from lower welfare imports such as pork from pigs reared in sow stalls and eggs from hens kept in barren battery cages abroad which are banned here and severely compromise animal welfare.
We must not allow lower welfare imports to undercut higher welfare British farm standards and risk a race to the bottom for animal welfare. The market should not be distorted against farmers working to higher health, environmental and animal welfare standards and unable to compete on an uneven playing field. Our environmental and animal welfare standards should also apply to imported products and meet our own ethical standards Lower welfare imports are the products of intensive industrial livestock systems, which rely on inefficient and petrochemical- dependent land use and drive poor bio-diversity and soil quality outcomes.
The UK has left the EU and has a key opportunity to take back control of agricultural land use and food policy, and to create a new model of farming excellence. We can lead our ambition to set the global standard for high quality sustainable food production but this leadership will be seriously compromised if we allow lower welfare produced imports from systems which are currently illegal in the UK on animal welfare grounds. Animal welfare is greatly valued by British citizens and consumers.
The Lords’ Amendment No.16 requires free trade deals to only allow food imports that meet UK legal standards and provides legal protection for farmers and their animals.
Thank you for your attention on this issue; please do vote for the Amendment.