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House of Lords reinstates import standards controls to Agriculture Bill

21st Oct 2020 / By Alistair Driver

Peers have reinserted powers to the Agriculture Bill intended to protect UK farmers and consumers from imports produced to standards not permitted in the UK under future trade deals.

Last week, amendments inserted in the House of Lords were removed as the Bill passed through the Commons. But in its return to the Lords last night, the Government was defeated on both votes, with a number of Conservative peers backing the industry.

Labour peer Lord Grantchester’s amendment ensuring agricultural and food imports meet equivalent benchmarks as British producers, including on animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety, was backed by 282 votes to 244

A revised version of Independent peer Lord Curry’s amendment to give the Trade and Agriculture Commission more powers to scrutinise trade deals and to require the secretary of state to report to Parliament on the impact of proposed future trade deals on maintaining agri-food standards, including food safety, the environment and animal welfare was backed by 278 votes to 200.

You can read more in Pig World HERE

Missed opportunity

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies described last week’s Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill as a ‘massive missed opportunity’.

She said: “This is a massive missed opportunity to provide the necessary legal protection and assurance from government that our sector needs. Vague promises about protecting standards are not enough.

“The US, for example, has made it clear that is not prepared to compromise in future trade deals on issues like the use of ractopamine in pigs and sow stalls, which are still widely used in US pig production, but were banned in the UK in 1999. There are also vast differences in areas like environmental protection, piglet castration and antibiotic use.

“The Government has given no clear indication of how, in the absence of legislation, it would prevent imports of significantly cheaper pork from the US and elsewhere produced using methods that are outlawed in the UK.

“Following the UK sow stall ban in 1999, retailers continued to import large volumes of cheaper pork from the EU produced using sow stalls. The impact was catastrophic as UK producers were unable to compete and went out of business – the pig herd halved in size in just a few years. The Government must learn from previous experience and do more to ensure that history is not repeated.”