More than one million people have pledged their support for British farming and food production by signing the NFU’s petition urging government to ensure future trade deals do not lead to an increase in food imports that would be illegal to produce here.
This overwhelming public support has accumulated in just over two weeks and more than 78,000 people have also written to their MP urging them to support the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission that can review trade policy and develop solutions that can hold all food imports to the UK’s high standards.
It is the clearest indication yet that the British public do not want to see food on their supermarket shelves, or in their restaurants and cafes, that fall below the standards British farmers adhere to.
The issue of where our food comes from and how it is produced has united the public up and down the country with every MP being contacted by a constituent on the topic, as well as drawing the support of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and the Mail on Sunday.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “It has been overwhelming to see this volume of support. The fact that more than one million people have signed a petition urging the government to put into law rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here is a clear signal of how passionate the British public feel about this issue.
“It is now clear that it is simply not credible for the government to continue to just pay lip service to this issue, when there is such public support for action. They must now give guarantees to the British people that they have listened to their concerns and will make firm commitments to address them.
“Trade policy is complicated, but what the public are telling us is quite simple. They care deeply about their food, where it comes from and how it is produced.
“They do not want to see chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on their supermarket shelves and nor do they want to see food imported which has been produced in lower welfare or environmental systems than is legally allowed in this country. Farmers, animal welfare groups, environmentalists and now the public have made their voices clear.
“There is a simple solution that we are presenting; the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission. This would be an independent body that can review trade policy and ensure all of our food imports are held to the same standards expected of British farmers.
“Given the clear commitments in the Conservative Party manifesto that they will not compromise British farming’s high standards, is it not a logical next step to put in place a panel of experts that can carry out that direction?
“These are decisions that will leave a legacy for decades and generations to come. It is so important that we get this right. Access to safe, traceable, affordable and nutritious food produced to the highest standards should be a right for all. We must not throw that away in the pursuit of free trade.”