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Conservative manifesto - what clues does it hold for the future?

19th May 2017 / By Alistair Driver

TM manifesto

There were plenty of points of interest for the pig industry in the Conservative manifesto, launched yesterday in Halifax by Prime Minister Theresa May. 

But it was some of the things that were not in there that might represent the greatest cause for for concern. 

The document reinforced the Prime Minister’s stance on Brexit, including leaving the EU single market and customs union and instead seek a ‘deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement’.

It also reiterated the Conservative Party’s desire for the UK to be a ‘global champion for an open economy, free trade, and the free flow of investment, ideas and information’.

However, unlike the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos, there does not appear to be any mention of protecting UK livestock producers from cheaper lower, standard imports under future trade deals, despite all the noise raised around this issue in recent months.

Whether this was an oversight or a deliberate omission - recognition, perhaps, that such a statement is not compatible with the free trade drive of Trade Secretary Liam Fox and others - Party strategists would do well to take a close look at the comparison of international pig welfare standards put together by the NPA. 

As the NPA continually stresses, the UK pig industry has no intention of lowering its welfare standards. And it therefore must be protected from lower standard imports in any new trade deals, for the sake of producers but also consumers and the next Government's credibility.

The manifesto also reaffirms the Party’s desire to take control of immigration outside the EU and ‘establish an immigration policy that allows us to reduce and control the number of people who come to Britain from the European Union, while still allowing us to attract the skilled workers our economy needs’.

The lack of reference to the so-called ‘unskilled labour’ the pig sector relies will be a concern within the industry, however. Again the Party would be well advised to look at the evidence that is out there on the importance of this issue, including that presented by this organisation

The manifesto confirms plans for a Great Repeal Bill converting EU law into UK law, ‘allowing businesses and individuals to go about life knowing that the rules have not changed overnight.’

Other key points for farming and the countryside included: 

  • Making CCTV recording in slaughterhouses mandatory
  • Committing the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the parliament. Previously the Government had only committed the same funding levels until the end of the current Common Agricultural policy in 2020.
  • Plans to devise a new agri-environment system, to be introduced in the following parliament.
  • A comprehensive 25 Year Environment Plan but no mention of the seemingly shelved 25-year food and farming plan
  • Controlling the export of live farm animals for slaughter.
  • A free vote on the Hunting Act.

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