A vital time for the future of British food and farming
On the 4th November, MP's voted down Agriculture Bill amendments aimed at protecting British food and farming standards. But the action of millions across the country has led to some success.
--- Blog updated 5th November 2020 ---
Following mounting pressure from both British farmers and citizens, including thousands of our own member and supporters, we are pleased that the new Trade and Agriculture Commission will be placed on a statutory footing. Thank you to all of our members and supporters who took action and contributed to pressure on the Government.
Despite the vote against proposed amendments to the Agriculture Bill, there will be a duty on Government to report to Parliament on how new free trade agreements may affect the UK levels of statutory protection in relation to human, animal and plant life and health, animal welfare and environmental protection.
However, unless the Agriculture Bill returns to the Commons with new amendments, this means that Parliament won't automatically get to vote on Trade Deals, and equivalent food and farming standards will not be enshrined in law.
Continue taking action
The Agriculture Bill is one way to secure a green food and farming future for Britain but there are many other opportunities. Together with the help of our members and supporters, we will continue to rally behind these opportunities which will include a consultation on a national plan for pesticides in the UK post-Brexit.
Ahead of the UN Climate Change Summit next year, and as part of the Climate Coalition, we will be working on a number of climate change initiatives to influence key legislation in the UK.
You can be part of this vital influencing and campaigning work by becoming a member of the Soil Association. Your support will allow us to keep up the pressure on Government, whilst supporting farmers on the ground, on these important areas. And you will be the first to hear about the actions we can take together, including the upcoming pesticide consultation and our action on climate change.
Previous action on the Agriculture Bill
--- The action below was requested ahead of Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill on the 4th November 2020 and is no longer applicable. ---
Once again, the new amendments proposed by the House of Lords, aim to protect British food and farming standards – this time by granting powers to Parliament which would help ensure UK standards are not undermined by future trade agreements.
- Amendment 16B requires any imported agricultural or food products to prove equivalent standards to our own, especially in areas of animal welfare and environmental protection
- Amendment 18B requires a report to be produced and affirmed by Parliament when negotiating new international trade deals.
These two amendments will help ensure that our domestic food standards are upheld and that UK citizens and farmers are protected from poor-quality imports.
Earlier in October, when the Bill faced similar amendments in the Commons, we were pleased to see over a thousand of our supporters take action by sending emails to their MP’s and tagging them in social media posts.
After being disappointed to see previous amendments on both pesticides, and climate change recently voted down it’s imperative that these new amendments receive the appropriate backing they deserve.
While the latest amendments do not go as far in their demands around trade agreements and imports, they will still go a long way to protecting our farmers and upholding our food and farming standards. We urge MPs to support the new amendments in Commons next week and you can too.
1. Copy our suggested email text at the bottom of this post
2. Use this handy website to find and contact your local MP
3. Paste the email into the website and make any edits you wish to
4. Let us know how communication with your MP goes - we can provide advice and also like to see their responses. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Please help protect UK food standards
Dear [insert name of MP]
The vote in the House of Commons on Monday 12 October to not support amendments to the Agriculture Bill tabled by the Lords was a great disappointment to me, and to many citizens concerned about the future of UK food and agriculture. Although I was pleased to see that some of the amendments received significant support, it is a great shame that this was not enough to ensure they passed.
I welcomed the recent announcement that the new Trade and Agriculture Commission would be placed on a statutory footing. It was also good news that a new proposed amendment to the Agriculture Bill would place a duty on Government to report to Parliament on how new free trade agreements may affect the UK levels of statutory protection in relation to human, animal and plant life and health, animal welfare and environmental protection.
However, this still means that Parliament won't automatically get to vote on Trade Deals, and that equivalent food and farming standards are not enshrined in law.
I, therefore, write to you today, as your constituent and as a supporter of the Soil Association, to ask you to vote in favour of the updated amendments being presented in Commons next Wednesday (4 November).
The return of these amendments – which focus on maintaining standards in international trade – present one more opportunity to ensure UK standards are not undermined by future trade agreements.
• Amendment 16B requires any imported agricultural or food products to prove equivalent standards to our own, especially in areas of animal welfare and environmental protection.
• Amendment 18B requires a report to be produced and affirmed by Parliament when negotiating new international trade deals.
These two amendments will ensure that our domestic food standards are upheld, and that UK citizens and farmers are protected from poor-quality imports.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my views, and I look forward to hearing from you.
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