The Farmers’ Union of Wales has reacted with anger and dismay at the House of Commons rejection to enshrine in law measures that would protect consumers and producers from sub-standard food imports.
MPs voted by 332 votes to 279 - a majority 53 - to reject the amendment to the Agricultural Bill which would have ensured food under any future trade deal would have to meet UK animal welfare and food safety rules.
FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “This Government sacrificed our industry at the altar, paving the way for lower-quality food to come into this country, rather than standing by their manifesto commitments.
“We believe it was a grave error on their part to oppose the amendments in this way and once again their promises to look after our industry and protect consumers and producers alike are just empty words.”
Mr Roberts added that blocking the amendment, which would protect UK farmers and consumers from food produced to lower health, welfare and environmental standards, at a time when the importance of protecting the food security and health of the Nation was at the top of the agenda, beggars belief.
Furthermore, without such strict standards enshrined in law, there is a chance we will see an increase in unfair competition and lower standards, while also threatening a trade deal with the EU or increasing costly checks at the EU border.
“This bill is considered to be the most important piece of UK legislation in relation to food and farming for more than 70 years and it is a sad indictment of the Brexit process and those who made numerous promises regarding protecting our markets and standards after the Withdrawal Period to deliberately allow a lowering of current standards and instigate a ‘race to the bottom’,” he said.
The Government, he added, made a manifesto commitment to maintain standards which protect our animal welfare, plants, environment and people in future trade deals, a commitment that has been neglected repeatedly.
“They have so far failed the public and have gone back on their word, breaking their manifesto commitment. When we met with Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena a few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk of trusting the Government to do the right thing - this is not it.
“We will discuss this at our upcoming Livestock, Wool and Marts and Hill Farming and Marginal LandCommittee meeting, with a view of publishing a full list of all the MP’s who have betrayed their constituents by voting against this amendment,” said Mr Roberts.