‘Pandemic shows how UK is dangerously reliant on imports’

May 15, 2020

SAME STANDARDS: National Clause Two is about having equivalence on imported food, so it is WTO compliant and about getting very, very good trade deals. I want to see more British lamb and cheese go into America. I’m very happy to have new imports in trade deals with America but they cannot undercut our present production methods. – Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee Neil Parish, when speaking in Parliament during the debate on the America trade deal.

PUBLIC AWAKENED: “I think we would win huge public support to increase our food self-sufficiency, given the nasty taste so many consumers have had recently of how it feels to go into a supermarket and see large expanses of bare shelves.” – Farmers For Action chairman David Handley.

 

 

 

 

FARMERS For Action says empty shelves caused by the current Covid 19 pandemic shows how important it is to increase self-sufficiency across a range of produce.


Chairman David Handley recently posted his thoughts in His Thoughts For The Weekend column on social media on 3 May and this was shortly before the Agriculture Bill was being debated in the House of Commons as part of a new Trade Act to bring a deal with the United States.


He said: “We should be making a real effort to increase our food self-sufficiency across a range of produce, pushing it to as close to 100 per cent as we can, and only importing the exotics that can’t be grown here because of climatic limitations.

‘Public had to be told why there were gaps on shelves’


“I think we would win huge public support for such a move, given the nasty taste so many consumers have had recently of how it feels to go into a supermarket and see large expanses of bare shelves.


“An experience which has been all the more puzzling when it has had to be explained to them that there are, for example, no cabbages because they come from Spain or no spring onions because they come from Egypt.


“I think for the first time people have started to wake up to the fact of just how dangerously reliant we have been made to become on imports merely as a result of supermarkets wishing to source everything as cheaply as possible from wherever possible in the interests of boosting their profits.

“As for exports, of course we must continue to export whatever we can. But we need to ensure we don’t export more than can be sold because that only leads to price drops which can be ruinous for primary producers. We need, in short, to export to order and not on spec.”


Having welcomed the public’s newly-awakened interest in how their food is grown or reared, it could be used with care and subtlety, to gain a greater respect for the industry

‘Milk market controlled by European processors’


He said: “By and large I really welcome the public’s newly-awakened interest in who produces our food and how they do it which at the end of the day (and as long as we capitalise on it carefully and subtly) can only lead to a greater public respect for farmers.


“But I wonder what the public reaction will be when they discover that our milk market is virtually controlled not by the Government, not by farmers but by two major European processors, one of which is suggesting that UK milk production is decreased to bring supply and demand back into balance.

“Will the public understand this to mean that the necessary number of cows will simply be dried off then put out to grass to decorate the countryside?
“Or will they realise that this will mean simply culling cows and that the mountain of carcasses this will generate will collapse not only the cull beef market but impact on the clean beef market as well – with the possibility that some producers will be driven out of business?”


Head of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, pushed for his National Clause 2 amendment to be included in a Trade Bill meaning all US agricultural imports must be of the same standards to which regional and national producers have to adhere to, were voted down.

He hopes that the House of Lords will take up the baton for this amendment and help redress this anomaly.


Mr Parish said in the debate, which can be found on Twitter: “I don’t think it has been ever so important to have home production and good quality food in this country. It is not only the farmers and growers that want that, but it is also the supermarkets, retailers and the consumers.

‘Clause 2 was about moral equivalence of imports’


“We are all working together to deliver higher and higher standards, better welfare and better environmental conditions. The whole raison d’etre is to move in the direction of higher welfare and higher environmental standards, looking after our land and our soils, holding back water, having better flood protection.


“National Clause Two is about having equivalence on imported food, so it is WTO compliant and about getting very, very good trade deals. I want to see more British lamb and cheese go into America.

‘They must not undermine our standards’


“I’m very happy to have new imports in trade deals with America but they cannot undercut our present production methods.


There has been much observation on the ethics of importing chlorinated chicken from the United States and Mr Parish spoke in more general detail as to why the public should be concerned.


He said: “If we look at American poultry production, it is what they use their chlorine wash for. It is their lower end of their production, more densely populated chicken, much poorer welfare and environmental conditions.

‘Chlorine wash reduces cost and welfare in poultry’


“In order to clean it up to make it safe to eat, they use the chlorine wash. In doing so, they reduce the cost of production and reduce the welfare of that poultry.

‘Upgrade your standards to ours then we’ll import it’


“So I was say the Secretary of State for Trade (Liz Truss), she should spend her time getting a trade deal of equivalence and export our very important animal and environmental welfare and I would say to the Americans, ‘why don’t you upgrade the welfare of your production and reduce the density of your chickens and reduce the amount of antibiotics that you are using and then you will produce better chicken for America but it can also come into this country.


“Let’s not be afraid to put clauses in this bill to protect the environment and the welfare the whole bill and the farmers want to have.”

  • PIG World has published a response to Mr Parish’s observations that was made to the House of Commons by Farming Minister Victoria Prentis on 14 May and it can be found here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean May 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Globalism must be killed off, all nations must become as self sufficient as possible.

Reply

Milton Devonair May 24, 2020 at 3:40 pm

It’s either they kill us off or we kill them off. There is no alternative as in order for them to exist, we have to be eliminated. Nations cannot exist.

Reply

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