Today, in the Agriculture Bill committee I spoke in support of an amendment tabled in my name, which would ensure that we do not allow cheaper food, produced to lower animal welfare and/ or food safety standards, into the UK as a result of post-Brexit trade deals, for example with the USA. This could include products which are now very familiar to us such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-pumped beef, but also – for example – chicken reared in the US where antibiotic use in farming is 5 times higher than it is here. It would be bad for the British consumer (as these products are also linked with much higher instances of food borne illnesses), and bad for British farmers, who would have to either intensify to compete or go out of business entirely.
I was very encouraged that the Tory MP, Simon Hoare, spoke in favour of my amendment. He gave the Government more time to respond, but said if this issue hadn’t been adequately resolved at Report stage he would very likely vote for an amendment then, having never previously rebelled against a government bill. He also warned the Government there were others on his side who felt the same way. I have now re-tabled my amendment for Report stage of the Bill, which will come to the Commons in the next few weeks, as New Clause 1. I will do everything I can to work cross-party to get this vital protection into this Bill.