UK Farming Roundtable February 2020 - focusing on the Agriculture Bill and trade
This week on Tuesday 18 February the UK Farming Roundtable met for the first time since the General Election and Brexit day. The Agriculture Bill and the impact of two storms in as many weeks with another on the way were high on the agenda.
The UK is now in a 'transition period' until December 31 2020. During this time, all laws and trading arrangements remain, largely, the same. However, as the Agriculture Bill progresses through its Committee Stage in Westminster there is a notable absence of clauses relating to standards and agri-food trade. It’s reassuring that almost every written and verbal submission from stakeholders to the committee contained a desire to maintain current UK standards and ensure that imported food also met our standards. We’ve had commitment from politicians that UK standards won’t be lowered but it’s the silence surrounding the standards of imports that causes concern.
Amendments to the Agriculture Bill are still being tabled and there are several which would address the concerns of stakeholders. SLE will be pushing for some of our own and supporting those from other stakeholders where appropriate. Our first briefing to the committee supported some early amendments and another will follow soon.
Large government majorities can make it difficult to amend bills and a more subtle approach is often needed. Which is why it will be increasingly important for individual land managers and farmers to contact their MP’s and highlight how important the issue or trade, labour and rural funding is to their electorate. You can find our guide to engaging with local politicians in your members toolkit on the website (remember to log in first).