NFU President Minette Batters has stressed the importance of action to safeguard British farming’s high standards in trade policy at a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Downing Street meeting came just days after the Government rejected House of Lords amendments to the Agriculture Bill intended to protect the UK from imports produced to standards not permitted in the UK, prompting an angry backlash from industry and beyond.
Mrs Batters urged the Prime Minister to increase the parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals, in particular, in line with one of the rejected amendments, strengthening the Trade and Agriculture Commission to allow MPs to have their say on how trade deals would impact British food and farming
She said it was good to have the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister at such an important time for British farming.
“We are at a juncture that will have ramifications for both farming and the wider public for decades to come,” she said. “I made clear that the nation cares deeply about British food and the high standards it is produced to. They do not want to see it undermined by imported food that could be produced to standards that are illegal here.
“Already, over a million people have signed our petition and tens of thousands of letters have been written to MPs on this issue. Those people want action to ensure our high standards of food production are not undercut.
“We also discussed the critical importance of getting our new agricultural policy right and the urgent clarity needed now for our fruit, veg and flower growers about where they will get their all-important workforce from in time for the 2021 season and beyond.
“I hope to continue to have constructive discussions with the Prime Minister and his government ministers as the Agriculture Bill reaches its final stages and throughout our trade negotiations with the EU and others.”
Commenting on Twitter, Mr Johnson said it was good to meet Mrs Batters. “I will always support our fantastic farmers, who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep our country fed. Outside the EU we now have the chance to get a better, fairer deal for Britain’s food and farming sector,” he said.