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Following months of campaigning by farming groups across the nation, MPs in the UK have rejected an amendment that sought to uphold high standards in the industry.
As discussions around Brexit trade deals ramped up, the farming industry campaigned for various amendments, seeking protection from lower-standard food imports.
The Agricultural Bill, the biggest reform of British farming since 1945, was put before MPs on 13th May for the last time. The bill currently includes the creation of a scheme that will offer financial rewards to farmers that work to protect the environment and improve animal welfare standards.
The latest amendment sought to uphold the high standards of British farmers in future trade deals between the UK and other countries, to ensure those deals met with the same high standards of welfare and environmental protection. The rejection of the amendment on Wednesday has left the industry with grave concerns, as future imports of agri-food products could now fall below the legal standards in the UK.
Ahead of the debate earlier this week, the NFU convened a coalition of farming, environmental and animal welfare organisations. In a letter written to MPs urging them to support the amendment to uphold British farming standards, it stated: “If UK farming is to face the future as a vital strategic sector, producing the food we eat and meeting the challenges of climate change, food security and the high expectations of the UK public in the way we treat our farmed animals and wildlife, the bill must not undermine that very goal by allowing in food imports that fail to meet its high ideals.”
Despite the setback, NFU Scotland has said there can be encouragement taken from the 277 MPs who argued for the amendment to the bill. After leaving the House of Commons, the bill will now move on to the House of Lords, where organisations and groups that have campaigned so extensively until now have said they will continue to seek amendments.
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