An attempt to protect the UK food and farming sector from sub-standard imports has been voted down in Westminster, and Scotland’s 6 Tory MPs from rural constituencies have been asked to account for their decision to vote against the safeguard.
A South West of England Tory MP, Neil Parish representing Tiverton & Honiton in Devon, had tabled an amendment to the UK Agriculture Bill that would have enshrined in law the principle that imported food would have to match the quality and animal welfare standards of UK farmers’ production. However, the measure was thrown out during House of Commons voting on the Bill on Wednesday night, with all 6 of Scotland’s Tory MPs helping stymie Mr Parish’s amendment.
The guilty men and usual suspects as lobby fodder for the Tory English Nationalist Executive running the country are John Lamont MP, Berwickshie Roxburgh & Selkirk, Andrew Bowie MP, Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, Douglas Ross MP, Moray, David Duguid MP, Banff & Buchan, Alister Jack MP, Dumfries & Galloway, who is also currently Governor General of the colony of Scotland, and his predecessor in the role of chief propagandist for English Nationalism, David Mundell MP, Dumfriesshire Clydesdale & Tweeddale.
They all voted against including equivalence of standards for imported foods in the new Bill, which will be the foundation of UK food and farming policy once the Brexit process is complete and the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy no longer has authority here.
There was an immediate outcry on social media, where farmers noted that the livestock-producing constituencies represented by these MPs had the most to lose from the mooted free trade deal with the United States, which would throw open the UK market to imports of cheap meat from production systems made cheaper by the unrestricted use of genetically modified crops and hormonal growth promoters, in intensive ‘feed lot’ systems that are very different from Scotland’s grass-based farms.
Immediate past chairman of the National Sheep Association (NSA) in Scotland, and beef farmer, John Fyall asked: “Is there an obvious reason I am missing why the farming constituents were thrown under the bus? Six Scottish MPs backed the government denial of the motion, exposing Scottish farmers to free trade without a level playing field. Years of work on animal and environmental care thrown away!”
NFU Scotland director of policy Jonnie Hall was also aggrieved,“While the passing of this landmark Bill unamended was no surprise, it was still deeply disappointing. The UK Agriculture Bill is a once-in-a-generation piece of legislation and it must safeguard the sustainability of domestic food production and the integrity of domestic food consumption. The Bill presents an opportunity to ensure that agri-food imports in the future are produced to at least equivalent environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards as those required of farmers and crofters in Scotland and the UK. Anything less would undermine the highest standards to which the industry in Scotland works to, and the entire agri-food supply chains of the UK.”
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker felt betrayed, “With the Government’s manifesto commitment to protect and not compromise on our environmental and animal welfare standard in trade deals, it is highly concerning that they will not cement this in legislation. The pledge, after all, is one that stands for the term of this Government, however, this commitment needs to be far more permanent than that. Reading some of the comments made by MPs in the debate on Wednesday it is still clear that there are entirely opposing views on our future relating to food self-sufficiency and security, and international trade.”
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