Following the government announcement made on Sunday 1 November 2020 to strengthen the remit of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, MPs have passed a government amendment to the Agriculture Bill that means the commission must present a report to Parliament on the impact of each trade deal on our food and farming standards.
The House of Commons debated the Agriculture Bill once more (4 November) as the landmark piece of legislation continues its journey towards becoming UK law.
Parliament agreed to the amendment, proposed by the government, which ensures each trade deal must be subject to a report from the Trade and Agriculture Commission, giving farmers a stronger voice in the future of our trade policy.
This amendment comes after months of lobbying and MPs who spoke in the debate were clear that the NFU had been integral in getting the government to this point.
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis MP said:
“We must recognise that a large number of people outside Parliament have been involved in the debate on standards, including the National Farmers’ Union and the many members of the public who signed its petition, and many British farmers.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Defra, Luke Pollard MP, also congratulated the role of the NFU and the President, Minette Batters:
“It has been a team effort, and it has included the work of the National Farmers Union and Minette Batters.”
During the debate, Chairman of the EFRA Select Committee Neil Parish MP applauded the NFU and Lord Curry for securing this amendment:
“Our Lordships—I pay particular tribute to Lord Curry—have rightly kept the pressure up with their amendments and helped to bring this about tonight. Government members, along with the National Farmers’ Union and others, have been working very hard to find a way that we can show our commitment to the highest standards of food production in law.”
Sarah Dines MP praised the NFU for its work in representing farmers in her constituency in the Derbyshire Dales:
“My constituents have also been well served by the National Farmers’ Union, represented by Andrew Critchlow in Matlock, by Jane Bassett from Hartington, and by Andrew Broadley from Derbyshire Dales.”
Edward Timpson, MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire, was also full of praise for the NFU:
“Those amendments before us and those to future Bills will go a long way to enabling many of us to support the position we have now reached. I think they also reflect well on the work that has been done by the NFU—including NFU Cheshire and its chairman, Richard Blackburn.”
“The progress that has been made is testament to the campaigning prowess of the NFU, Minette Batters and, indeed, the whole farming community” said EFRA Liberal Democrat spokesperson Tim Farron MP, while Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman also highlighted the work of the NFU's President and the pivotal role she played. Mr Freeman said, “I also thank Minette Batters, the president of the NFU, for her tireless work.”
As the ‘ping pong’ stage of the Bill continues, the House of Lords will consider the amendments proposed by the House of Commons once more on Monday 9 November.
More of the NFU’s work on food and farming standards:
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