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Scottish Farming has Clear Stake in Passage of UK Agriculture Bill

Trade, standards and food security raised by NFUS

NFU Scotland has contacted all Scottish MPs ahead of the UK Agriculture Bill being debated in the House of Commons tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May) before it undergoes scrutiny in the House of Lords.   NFUS has outlined that debate on the Bill at this crucial time for the nation must recognise the importance of supporting primary producers to provide security of food supply, and for that food to continue to be produced to the highest of standards.



A critical issue for NFUS and other UK farming unions is the fact that the UK Agriculture Bill does not explicitly rule out the importation of agricultural products that are produced to a lower standard nor does it enshrine UK/EU standards.  That major omission could expose the UK’s farming sector to competition from imported food that has been produced to lower food safety, environmental, and animal welfare standards, some of which are illegal here.

The UK Agriculture Bill, while setting out a detailed roadmap for agricultural policy in England after the UK leaves the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), also contains wide-ranging elements that pertain to things like producer organisations, supply chain contracts (including for the dairy sector), compliance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and red meat levy repatriation.

Ahead of the Bill being discussed in the House of Commons tomorrow, Director of Policy Jonnie Hall said: “Although firmly focussed on Scotland’s own Bill in which the Scottish Government looks to establish our national framework for future agricultural policy, we have a significant interest in the passage of the UK Agriculture Bill, which contains important and far-reaching UK-wide aspects.

“NFUS remains deeply concerned that in the negotiation of new free trade agreements with the EU and other international partners, there will be little protection offered to domestic producers from imported produce that has been produced to lower standards.

“NFUS has joined with the other UK farming unions to pressure the government to establish, as soon as possible, an independently-constituted Trade and Standards Commission which would provide a roadmap for the government to meet its commitment to protect the UK’s high standards of production in future trade policy. “We have also lobbied strongly for provisions within the UK Agriculture Bill to require all food imported into the UK to be produced to at least equivalent food production standards as those required of producers in the UK.

“It is also vital that the approach being taken for English farmers via the UK Agriculture Bill is complementary to the Scottish Government’s policy proposals for Scottish farmers and crofters and that decision-making processes established via the UK Agriculture Bill in terms of future financial and regulatory frameworks ensure that Scottish interests are represented and consulted upon.  Crucially, the UK Bill must ensure that the consent of devolved administrations is given on matters concerning these UK-wide frameworks.

“The Bill also creates an obligation for UK Ministers to make five-yearly statements on food security.  For the period during and immediately following the negotiation of a new Free Trade Agreement with the EU, we believe the frequency of reporting on food security must be increased to an annual requirement. It is also vital that the Bill sets out clearer requirements relating to the degree of the nation’s food security derived from domestic production, and commitments to prevent any further declines in self-sufficiency.

Notes to editors

  • Click here to view a copy of NFU Scotland’s briefing to Scottish MPs ahead of the proposed Bill being discussed in the House of Commons tomorrow it is available from media@nfus.org.uk


Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 61/20


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