The Liberal Democrats have proposed new legislation to protect Welsh farmers from being undercut by food trade deals that do not meet the UK’s environment and animal welfare standards.
The plans, set out in a private member’s bill from Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP, would require the government’s Trade and Agriculture Commission to assess the impact of any new trade deal on UK farmers, and guarantee that MPs had the final say on trade deals initiated by the government.
This would include an assessment of the impact of new trade deals on farming communities in each region and nation of the UK.
Farron’s Bill comes after concern was raised by farmers unions and the Welsh Liberal Democrats that the Government’s new trade deal with Australia will not include a Welsh-specific impact assessment.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS and Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron MP
Commenting on his proposals Tim Farron stated:
“My bill will guarantee that MPs can act as a final safeguard on future trade deals and ensure that the impact of any trade deal on farmers is properly assessed so we can properly scrutinise it.
“Without farmers we cannot hope to tackle the climate crisis or recover our depleted natural environment. We need to be protecting them, not selling them out for a quick trade deal.
“The Conservatives have failed to ensure that our world-leading standards are not eroded in the new trade deals they’re signing, risking our farmers’ livelihoods.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated:
“This Bill is exactly what we need to protect our farmers in Wales. Welsh produce is among the finest and most environmentally sustainable in the world, it should not be being sold down the river in quick deals to try and masquerade failings by the Conservative Party.
“Yet both the Australian and New Zealand trade deals have shown us the lack of Welsh-specific scrutiny our trade deals are going under. Concerns that lower standard and cheap meat will flood UK markets and push Welsh farmers out of business, damage rural communities and harm the Welsh language are all at the forefront of people’s minds.
“Welsh Conservative MPs are repeatedly failing to use their influence on their own party to stand up for Welsh farmers and producers. With both the Australian and New Zealand trade deals showing the lack of Welsh-specific scrutiny our trade deals are going under, Tim’s Bill will be vital as the Government presses on to do deals with countries like the US, Brazil and Argentina."
The full Bill can be read here