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Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:24 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Jyoti Fernandes:

I was going to bring up something really important to this whole scenario, which is the impact of trade. Basically, we are never going to get the conditions here where small and family farms can survive as independent businesses, or keep decent work opportunities on larger units, if you are undercut by cheaper produce from elsewhere. It just is not a possibility. The global marketplace can source cheap labour—slave labour—from all over the planet, and really exploit places with really low conditions. It is not just the trade standards: it is also the competition from very large multinational corporations in other countries—the huge farms in California or South America, which have loads of exploited labour, much higher levels of pesticide usage and multinational advertising campaigns that will blow any of our homegrown industries out of the water, unless we can get some control over that and have something in the Bill that allows for tariffs that stop that imported stuff, and standards and rules that do not allow our homegrown industries to be undercut.

This is a very exciting Agriculture Bill. Everything about it that is moving towards environmentally friendly farming, agroecological farming and all of that is tremendously exciting. We could have one of the best homegrown food supplies in Europe, and we could really pioneer something very special and really support small and family farms, independent businesses and workers being treated decently, but not if we are undercut by cheap imports. That must be looked at very carefully, otherwise all the good work and the good will of this Bill will be undone.