Michael Gove explains why import food standards must be the same as ours This hasn't aged well.

While saying they are keeping to their manifesto pledge to maintain standards, the Tories are not maintaining them on imported food and farmstuffs


Farmers get increased support from public."75 per cent of Britons have a positive view of the farming industry – the highest figure since the Farmer Favourability Survey began in 2012."

Who said: "Imports must be to our standards" Answer

Cluck Off - busting arguments to counter Ministers' myths.

When considering standards - don't forget the workers

Waitrose boss promises 'no chlorinated chicken'Aldi vows to never sell chlorinated chicken or hormone treated beefSainsburys Tesco M&S & Co-op join inWe are waiting for ASDA - sorry - Walmart!Why they chlorinate chicken according to RSPCA

Ministers to use obscure rule to stop MPs voting on UK-US deal

Labelling will not protect us Which? The US wants LESS labelling in any deal.

No stopping antibiotics in US meat, if on WTO rules

Growers raise concerns as LRT consults about new standards

Scrap EU consumer and worker protections says leading Tory MP. "Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said.

Commission

Trade Act UK ministers gain power to allow lower-standard food imports. Trade bill vote rejects Lords amendment giving MPs greater scrutiny of trade deals

'Adamant about maintaining standards' - Jan 21 "The Commission intends to go even further than this, recommending the Government makes it a ‘red line’ that existing bans on produce reared using growth promoters such as ractopamine or Bovine somatotropin (bST) are kept in place."

Trade & Agriculture Commission put on statutory footing. Despite saying for weeks it doesnt have to be a legal entity, and after a long fight from farming groups and peers in the House of Lords, Ministers have agreed to put the Commission into law. Gov site "It will produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal the government signs after the end of the EU transition period on January 1. This report will be laid in Parliament "

Save British Farming "Just to be clear, given today’s T&AC news, as long as our #FoodStandards aren’t enshrined in primary legislation, we shall continue campaigning and holding demos around the country. "

Vicki Herd, Sustain "Does anyone seriously think that will protect much? Farmers and public are being let down. #SaveOurStandards

CC says The mere presence of such a Commission shows that standards will not automatically be protected but instead be up for negotiation. The government has created a smokescreen, behind which deals will be made individually over many years, not attracting much attention in turmoil to come.

Safeguarding Standards warns that the UK government has weakened protections around food imports and is failing to consider properly the impact of trade on public health, animal welfare and the environment.

From the Future British Standards Coalition (FBSC) it found that UK ministers have given themselves significant powers to change the rules on food imports without parliamentary votes or proper scrutiny. Rules governing the use of hormones and food additives are now easier to change, while standards on the use of antibiotics in farming have already been deleted.
Ministers have refused to sign safeguards on imported food.

Parliament

An amendment has been tabled by the Government to the Agriculture Bill, which would require the Secretary of State, after negotiating a free trade agreement with any country outside the EU, to lay a report before Parliament on how the deal maintains UK health, environmental and animal welfare standards. Nov '20

Ping

Lords Amendment 16B (20 Oct 20) after Commons rejected earlier version

1) Agri-food imports would have to seek equivalence to domestic animal welfare, environment, food safety/hygiene/traceability, & plant health standards. However, there's now flexibility on this with less developed countries, so as to not unfairly impede trade with those nations2) Government must lay a statement before Parliament confirming equivalent standards have been met, and if any exemptions have been given, must state their case why - this is prior to Parliament voting on a trade deal. Gives stronger Parliamentary scrutiny of negotiated deals3) Agri-food chapters in trade deals must be approved by House of Commons before the deal can be ratified. A motion must be moved in the Lords to debate chapters, unless Peers decide it is not needed. Parliament gets a clear say, which should better represent public interests

Shock as Red Tractor Chair votes against each of these amendments

Baroness Neville-Rolfe chair of Assured Food Standards (ASF) said a couple of weeks before: “This is a critically important time for Red Tractor to demonstrate strong leadership in protecting the integrity of the food chain and British agricultural standards."
'Tesco Moll' resigns

Pong

330 Tories voted to reject Lords amendment (listed here) "MPs have for a second time overturned measures from peers aimed at protecting UK food standards in future trade deals. The House of Commons voted 331 to 272, majority 59, to disagree with a House of Lords amendment " Nov 4

Instead, MPs backed a government amendment to the Bill to increase parliamentary scrutiny of free trade agreements (Commission above) and for extra detail on how measures are consistent with maintaining UK standards.

We were promised by Tory Brexiteers - time and again - that we would keep our food standards (on safety, environment & animal welfare). Witness my surprise meeting with my - prominent -Tory MP. Yet as soon as we start coming out of the EU, the government is saying we cannot maintain standards.

Senior Tory MP reported as saying the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to sign an agreement with the USA was being ‘hijacked by a bunch of Waitrose protectionists’.

The Welsh First Minister said the governments proposals for a n internal market has set back devolution.


'The most worrying’ part of the UK Government’s plans was the potential for Welsh environmental and food safety standards to be undermined if another nation chose to import sub-standard produce.'

Which! find people want food standards "95% of people believe it’s important that the UK maintains existing food standards when negotiating trade deals. Some 74% told us us they object to food produced with lower standards entering the UK"

Bang go our food and farming standards: Under the terms of the trade bill, an agreement can now be negotiated... entirely in secret, laid before parliament, and can officially become law after 21 days without any vote or substantive debate by MPs. Commission (above) should now stop that.

During the debate on the amendment to the Agriculture Bill regarding standards, some Tory MPs said that the appropriate place to debate this matter was during the trade bill. It was, and it lost again, prompting Jay Raynor to call Gove a 'straight up liar'.

MRLs

Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) - previously set by EU will in future be set 'behind closed doors'. These levels govern the amounts of antibiotics, medicines and pesticides in food, and are strictly adhered to by retailers. The government pledged to keep to EU MRLs, but in future the UK will "set appropriate MRLs" of its own choosing. More on 'Pesticides at the Crossroads'.

Poorest least likely to want lower food standards Which? report shows "showed only one in ten (11 per cent) of people from lower income households wanted access to cheap, low standard food, compared to one in six (16 per cent) from more affluent households."

High tariffs on sub-standard food. PM backs Eustice plan.

According to reports, "the Government position was adopted at a ministerial meeting last week (June 20), with some suggesting the PM’s decision was influenced by his partner, animal welfare activist Carrie Symonds.

The proposal is part of a two-pronged approach which would allow high-quality foods, such as organically-reared free range meat, to be imported with lower tariffs."

Imports

Explaining the Government’s refusal to legally protect food production standards in trade deals (Feb '20), the Minister Victoria Prentis claimed such a move would ‘create considerable uncertainty’ about whether current imports could continue. "She pointed to the example of poultry, where not all of the UK’s £2.1bn-worth of chicken imports meet domestic stocking density requirements, and said new restrictions would lead to price rises."

Shadow Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner tabled an amendment to the Bill which would have banned lower standard imports, known as ‘new clause 1’ (became NC2), Government said: "we are concerned we would risk significant challenge from it… if [any WTO member] believed our import measures were arbitrary, discriminatory or a disguised form of protectionism.” So there it is - standards to go.

Tenant Farmers: “Is the Minister really saying that in order to provide a sufficient quantity of food she is prepared to sacrifice the quality standards we hold dear at home and offshore our environmental and animal welfare consciences? Yes

NFU Wales "“In our view, this news is a kick in the teeth to the professionalism, dedication and investment of Wales’ farmers in producing food to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. Previous promises of a bright new future for the industry outside the European Union already seem to have been forgotten. "

Half our chickens already in US agribusiness control May '20 "Half of the UK’s chickens are being produced by companies fully or partly controlled by US agribusinesses, according to an analysis of industry data, fuelling concerns of growing American influence over the British food sector. "


Moy Park, owned by Pilgrims Pride, now produces approximately 312 million birds a year, while Avara Foods – a joint venture between the US giant Cargill and the UK’s Faccenda Foods – slaughters 234 million. About a billion birds are killed every year in UK abattoirs.
(Feb 20) NFU President ""This isn't just about chlorinated chicken. We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung."

George Eustice, the agriculture minister, told the Commons (Sept '20) that five times more certificates would be needed for every animal product, despite a critical shortage of vets.

"We should trust the consumers" says Penny Mordant, despite:

"in reality many meat products, such as in restaurants, hospitals, and school cafeterias, do not have a country of origin label, making it impossible for consumers to differentiate."

"When Eustice was on the backbenches back in 2019 he tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to try to protect the UK's high animal welfare and food hygiene standards by banning the sale of lower standard foods such as chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef. But now as an environment secretary he failed to back the exact same amendment when it was tabled by the Labour Party in the House of Commons. The Tory MP was joined by farming minister Victoria Prentis in voting against the proposals, with the government insisting its bill will retain EU legislation for existing protections on food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards. Nonetheless Eustice's vote against looks like a u-turn." March 20 New European

George Eustice, the new (Feb 20) environment secretary, said there was a “discussion to be had” on food standards, in contrast with his predecessor Theresa Villiers, who had promised legal protections.

Villiers said neither chlorinated chicken nor hormone beef will be allowed into Britain in any US trade deal. At the Oxford Farming Conference on Wednesday (Jan 20) she also suggested the UK could introduce tariffs on imports of food from countries with lower food standards. There is no mention in the new revised Agricultural Bill (above) to bring in law to maintain standards, as requested by NFU, who suggested at the conference that there should be a Standards Commission to make sure that any deal government makes doe snot weaken our standards. Oh! Villiers left 6 weeks later to be replaced by ex-UKIPper/Fruit farmer George Eustice

The very same day I too was at in Oxford - only the Real farming Conference answering questions put by young people (rt). We were asked what we could do best to help fight climate change. HD said put a carbon tax on food imports, which Guy from Riverford scoffed (rightly), and I said 'produce much more of our food ourselves'.

I'm in 'pink' in hallowed hall with Henry Dimbleby (lft) - who drives the National Food Strategy

Did somebody say chicken? UK is preparing to break with EU on food safety at WTO meeting (Feb 20) " Downing Street is preparing to break away from the EU on food safety at an upcoming WTO summit, in yet another breach of transition rules within the Withdrawal Agreement.The stage will be set when the US formally welcomes the UK as an independent member of the WTO during a meeting about sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. SPS is the hot topic, the most sensitive issue about any trade negotiation with the EU or the US, so it is politically huge. The UK’s permanent representative Julian Braithwaite is expected to respond with “a clear statement about future intentions” on areas like beef hormones, gene editing and GM foods and the use of peracetic acid to wash poultry." NB BJ said we wouldn't use chlorine - presumably using acid instead.

The Beef Hormone Dispute is one of the most intractable agricultural controversies since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU started to limit hormone use to therapeutic reasons only. In 1989, the European Union banned the importation of meat that contained artificial beef growth hormones approved for use and administered in the United States. Other countries allowing 'growth' hormones include Mexico, Canada and Australia, These growth-promoting hormones are generally administered to cattle in the form of small pellets termed 'implants', placed under the skin in the animal's ear.

Farm groups fury including the NFU, National Sheep Association, Livestock Auctioneers Association, TFA, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and the Farmers Union of Wales.

Speaking on food standards during debate on Withdrawal Bill, Mr Corbyn said: "The choice we now face is between keeping the highest environmental and food standards in order to get a future trade deal with the European Union, or slashing food standards to match those of the United States where there are so-called acceptable levels of rat hairs in paprika, maggots in orange juice." But former Tory party leader, Mr Duncan Smith claimed approaches across the Atlantic were more effective than those deployed by UK farmers. Yet Salmonella related deaths in USA are around 430 / year compared to none in Britain, and Campylobacter deaths are about 124/yr in USA compared to one every two years here. More in Science or mumbo-Jumbo & Trump & Trade

Regulations are not the same as standards. In the EU workers', environmental and animal standards are harmonised. EU Directives are enacted by member States in various ways including regulations. Regulations prevent the worst, by inspectors going round poking and prosecuting. Poorly organised food and farm workers rely more on the laws to protect them, but employers often complain about this 'red tape'. Standards (eg LEAF, Red Tractor) promote better - by civil society like retailers and consumers. At present many of our standards are directly compatible with relate Single Market conditions, but they will be vulnerable - especially as we move away from EU trading - which many free marketeers want.

There will be little incentive for food and farm employers to stick to worker, environmental and animal standards, if they are not exporting into the EU. Why invest in all that if there are no better returns - the sort you can only get through the Single Market? I tried to explain this to my rural MP - see 'My heart is in farming'- Picked up by 'Sustain'.

PM BJ said at Greenwich (Feb '20) "While reiterating that the UK would not accept a ‘diminution of standards’ on food hygiene or animal welfare in a future US deal, Britain would be ‘governed by science, not mumbo-jumbo’" More in Trump & Trade

When Sajid Javid says we’ll be aligning with US rather than EU standards, does this mean it will be more expensive to get Camembert, but cheaper to get aerosol cheese. Any problem there?