The Agriculture Bill was last debated at Report Stage in the Commons on Wednesday 13th May. It passed unamended and is now scheduled for its 2nd Reading in the Lords for Wednesday 10th June.
NFFN worked hard to engage with MPs on our core issues throughout the Bill’s journey in the Commons – specifically calling for high environmental standards in trade deals; strong environmental regulations; long-term funding and certainty for farmers; and ‘public money for public goods’ secured long-term, not undermined by additional clauses on food production, and more.
As well as direct targeting of MPs, including sending our written briefing, we joined forces with other organisations to send a joint letter of support. You can read what was said during the debate here and we were delighted that several MPs took the chance to speak up for nature-friendly farming, including Kerry McCarthy MP – who referenced directly from our latest report! You can listen to Kerry here.
However, whilst trade standards dominated the Report Stage debate, we are disappointed that MPs did not use this opportunity to enshrine high environmental and welfare standards in law. A number of amendments were tabled, which sought to provide these protections; including one on trade standards from Neil Parish MP, the Chair of the EFRA Select Committee, and we hoped that MPs would have supported these.
Put simply, this amendment, and others if passed, would have meant that any agricultural or food product imported into the UK was at least equivalent to relevant domestic standards and regulations. Without this, we run the risk of lower-quality imports to the UK, undermining UK farmers.
We therefore remain concerned about the omission of clear standards and protections in the Agriculture Bill and will be encouraging Members of the House of Lords to make the case for these. We will continue to work with our members and supporters across the UK on this and thank you to everyone who emailed/tweeted/contacted their MP in support of our work!