- MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney refuses to support the Government’s new Agriculture Bill unless it includes legal guarantees that animal welfare and environmental standards won’t be undercut in post-Brexit trade deals with the USA
- PM challenged by Labour to put his promises over standards into law as guarantees are omitted from Government’s flagship new farming bill
- Concerns that chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards could be sold in Wales and the UK after Brexit undercutting local farmers
- MP urges Government to go further on agriculture net zero targets to tackle climate crisis; demands assurances that Welsh farmers won’t be undercut after Brexit
In a key debate on the Government’s new Agriculture Bill this week, Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, urged the Government to go much further on targets for net zero emissions in agriculture, praising the commitment of the Welsh Labour Government to reaching net zero before 2050.
13% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Wales in 2017 was from agriculture, and the Government’s bill, debated for its second reading on Monday, included no net zero targets or climate change commitments whatsoever.
Along with a number of other MPs from across parties, Gerald Jones also called for action from the Government to amend the bill to legally ban imports of produce below legal standards, such as chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-fed beef from the USA; something with the Tories promised in their election manifesto, but have kept quiet on since.
Farmers in Wales and across the UK are asking for assurances that the country’s agriculture industry will not be undercut by cheaper, substandard imports from abroad in post-Brexit trade deals. Many in the industry in Wales are also worried about future trade and tariff arrangements, with a high proportion of Welsh produce currently being exported to the EU, and Gerald urged the Government to work with agricultural organisations across the UK to legislate against these risks and protect the industry post-Brexit.
Commenting on the risk of poor-quality US food imports after a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump, Gerald said:
“I have spoken to many people in our area who are worried about chlorinated chicken, hormone-fed beef and more being sold in Britain after a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA.
“This is completely unacceptable. Chlorine washing kills the germs and infections caused by intensive US farming practices that are outlawed in Britain on animal welfare grounds.”
Speaking in the debate in Parliament, Gerald said:
“Vague manifesto promises that we will not have chlorinated chicken and hormone or antibiotic-fed beef in our supermarkets, and that our agriculture industry will not be undercut by cheaper imports from abroad, are not enough.
“I urge the Government to rethink this now and work with the dozens of farming organisations that have voiced their concerns to provide real, legal safeguards for our food and environmental welfare standards as part of the Bill.
“Although the Bill includes some welcome provisions for the future of our farming, including supporting public money for public goods, if the Government are serious about tackling the climate change crisis and putting the environment at the heart of our agriculture industry, they must go much further than this.”