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Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:50 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:50 pm, 21st January 2020

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I think that that was a remark directed more at his Front Benchers than mine, because there is an absence of such a provision in the Bill.

Lurking in the shadows of the Bill is the prospect of lower standards, lower environmental protections and lower animal welfare standards with a post-Brexit trade deal. There are many grand sentences and lofty ambitions, but the reality of a trade deal with Donald Trump’s America is that farm standards would be lower, and there is a risk that our farmers would be undercut by farming methods that do not have the same animal welfare or the same focus on quality as UK farmers have at the moment. Conservative Members may shake their heads, but this issue is being raised by the NFU and farmers’ groups right across the country. It is a valid and real concern in our rural communities, and this Bill and others still do nothing about it. Trade deals must not be allowed to lower standards. We do not want to be left with Donald Trump’s rat hair paprika, hormone-treated beef or chlorinated chicken. The show of hands at the Oxford farming conference about the confidence farmers have in the Secretary of State and the ability to protect farmers in trade deals showed that there is still work to be done by Ministers to win the confidence of farmers in that respect.