More than one million people have now signed the NFU’s petition urging government to ensure future trade deals do not lead to an increase in food imports that would be illegal to produce here.
This huge wave of public support for the petition has accumulated in just over two weeks, with a further 78,000 people having also written to their MP urging them to support the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission that can review trade policy and develop solutions that can hold all food imports to the UK’s high standards.
The NFU described this as the clearest indication yet that the British public do not want to see food on their supermarket shelves, or in restaurants and cafes, that fall below the standards British farmers adhere to.
The campaign has been backed by the Daily Mail, with celebrity endorsement from the likes of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and TV presenter and farmer Jeremy Clarkson, while animal welfare environmental campaigners have also backed it.
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 said the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission, an independent body that can review trade policy and ensure all of our food imports are held to the same standards expected of British farmers, would offer a ‘simple solution’.
“Given the clear commitments in the Conservative Party manifesto that they will not compromise British farming’s high standards, is it not a logical next step to put in place a panel of experts that can carry out that direction?” she said.
“These are decisions that will leave a legacy for decades and generations to come. It is so important that we get this right. Access to safe, traceable, affordable and nutritious food produced to the highest standards should be a right for all. We must not throw that away in the pursuit of free trade.”