MPs are donning wheatsheaf badges to show their support for Back British Farming Day today (9thSeptember), as the NFU warns now is the last chance to for politicians to put their words into action and ensure future trade deals support British agriculture.
Back British Farming Day is an NFU campaign to celebrate the high standards to which British farmers produce.
Farmers are also being encouraged to post a video on social media explaining why they are proud to produce food for the nation and how they are keeping the nation fed.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Food and Rural Affairs Tim Farron was among numerous MPs to take to social media with a video to explain what British farming means to him.
He said: “Not only do they help to feed us and make sure we keep this country food secure, they are also the people who maintain the biodiversity throughout our countryside around the United Kingdom.
“They help to protect the towns and villages of Cumbria from flooding by maintaining water in the uplands. They ensure that we create and maintain the carbon sinks that help us to tackle climate change. And they also preserve and maintain the backdrop, the landscape behind our world class tourism here in the Lakes and the Dales.
“We owe our farmers a vast amount. I’m delighted and proud to be supporting them here in Cumbia and across the country. Let’s back British farming, not just today, but every day.”
Efra shadow secretary of state Luke Pollard said in another video: “On Back British Farming Day, today, I want us all, not only to thank our farmers for the work they put in all year round as the original countryside stewards, but especially for all the work that has happened over the pandemic, to keep the food being supplied to supermarkets, to markets, to make sure our nation is still being fed.
“That’s why it is so important, that as well as saying the right words, that politicians match those warm sentiments with action. That’s why I will continue the campaign to stop British farmers being undercut by future trade deals …
“Thank you for everything you are doing. Keep up the good work and please know that in Westminster there are Members of Parliament like myself fighting to protect Great British farmers from being undercut in future trade deals.”
Lords urged to amend Trade Bill
With the Trade Bill being debated in the House of Lords this week, the NFU is urging Peers to amend the bill to give parliament the final say on whether to ratify new trade agreements. Currently there is no requirement for parliament to debate trade deals before they are signed into law, and safeguards to allow MPs to reject such trade deals are limited.
The NFU also wants parliament to receive independent advice about the impact of every trade deal on our food and farming standards, before it decides whether to accept or reject those trade deals.
An amendment to the Agriculture Bill, put forward by Lord Curry in the House of Lords, would give this duty to the new Trade and Agriculture Commission, which was set up by the government in July. The Amendment is likely to be debated by the House of Lords next week and the NFU is urging Peers to vote in its favour.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “We are at a pivotal time for the future of farming and the food on our plates. Nothing will determine this more than how the government shapes trade deals with countries around the world.
“There is no doubt that the countries we are currently negotiating with are demanding access to our prized market for their agriculture products and, right now, a trade agreement could be signed with little parliamentary scrutiny. This could result in a massive increase in the amount of food being imported that is produced in ways that would be illegal in this country.
“Politicians have time and time again stated that they will not allow this to happen. There is now a clear solution on the table that will allow Parliament to be kept fully informed of the impacts any trade deal will have on the food we all consume. Time is running out. Action has to be taken now or all the warm words will be for nothing.”
She warns that Britain’s high animal welfare and environmental standards, as well as our farm-to-fork approach to traceability, and world-leading status in reducing antibiotic use, “are in jeopardy if they are undermined by future trade deals”.
“I would urge all politicians to use today to think about these values, and what we have to lose,” she added.
For information on how to get involved with Back British Farming Day click HERE