A petition urging the government not to allow cheap, low-quality imports to undermine British farmers has now reached over one million signatures in just over two weeks.
The NFU, which launched the petition, has said future trade deals should prevent imports of food that would be illegal to produce here.
A proposed amendment to the Agriculture Bill, which would have protected British farmers from such imports, was recently voted down in parliament by a margin of 51 votes. The Ag Bill has since passed to the House of Lords for reading.
As well as reaching an impressive milestone for the petition, around 78,000 people around the country have also written to their MP, urging them to support the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission. This would review trade policy and develop solutions to ensure all imports are held to UK standards.
The NFU says the success of its campaign is the clearest indication yet that the British public do not want to purchase food that falls below the high standards to which British farmers adhere.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “It has been overwhelming to see this volume of support. The fact that more than one million people have signed a petition urging the government to put into law rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here is a clear signal of how passionate the British public feel about this issue.
“It is now clear that it is simply not credible for the government to continue to just pay lip service to this issue, when there is such public support for action. They must now give guarantees to the British people that they have listened to their concerns and will make firm commitments to address them.
“Trade policy is complicated, but what the public are telling us is quite simple. They care deeply about their food, where it comes from and how it is produced.
“They do not want to see chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on their supermarket shelves and nor do they want to see food imported which has been produced in lower welfare or environmental systems than is legally allowed in this country. Farmers, animal welfare groups, environmentalists and now the public have made their voices clear.”
She stressed the importance of access to safe, traceable, affordable and nutritious food, produced to the highest standards, concluding: “We must not throw that away in the pursuit of free trade.”