Protect our farmers - an open letter to Anthony Mangnall MP
Dear Mr Mangnall,
As MP for Totnes, you have in your constituency some of the most hard-working farmers in the country, whose livelihoods are currently under threat from negotiations concerning our food and animal welfare standards.
|Anthony Mangnall MP for Totnes|
Here in Devon, and especially the South Hams, we are proud to support our farmers and the work they do to make sure that the country is well fed. They have been subjected to hard times in the last few decades and many are having to think outside the box to stay afloat, with hundreds of farms going out of business, many of which have been passed down through the generations. According to data from the Food Standards Agency, the number of dairy producers in England and Wales has fallen by 866 in just 21 months. Our farmers need the support of our local representatives.
the number of dairy producers in England and Wales has fallen by 866 in just 21 months
Most of our local farmers are proud of their welfare standards and they care for the animals they raise but they are worried about the opening up of our food markets to cheaper, much less humanely produced meat products that would undercut their prices and leave already struggling farms with nowhere to turn.
Just a few weeks ago farmers with Save British Farming joined animal rights and environmental campaigners in a socially distanced demonstration around Parliament Square, asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government “don’t destroy Britain’s world-class farming industry by striking cheap food trade deals”.
don’t destroy Britain’s world-class farming industry by striking cheap food trade deals
Today, Monday, 20th July, the Trade Bill 2019-21 comes to the House of Commons for its report stage and I am asking whether you will vote to ensure that trade deals are not done behind closed doors and that you and your fellow MPs will be given a say on deals that could affect the food that appears on our plates.
|Semi-free range chicken credit: woodleywonderworks Flickr|
Despite the fact that National Farmers Union president, Minette Batters, said allowing these imports would be "morally bankrupt" and called for rules on minimum standards for imports to be made law, ministers are "reportedly considering letting products such as chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef into British shops".
Chlorine washing is a practice that’s used in the US agricultural industry, but has been banned in the UK since 1997. One of the main critiques of chlorine washing is that it’s used to cover up harmful hygiene and welfare practices in the farming and food production process.
chlorine washing is a practice that’s used in the US agricultural industry, but has been banned in the UK since 1997
If we strike bad trade deals with countries like the US, poor-quality food, like chlorinated chicken, could end up on our supermarket shelves - and undercut hard working British farmers.
Mr Mangnall, will you ensure that MPs, and therefore the public, will have a say on the upcoming trade negotiations with the US and other countries and help to protect the backbone of your own constituency, our farmers?
I look forward to hearing from you,
South Hams Journal
Reply from Mr Mangnall:
"I have read your open letter with interest. You are indeed correct that we have some of the most dedicated farmers in the country and I am proud to be their representative in Parliament. This is especially true given the Agriculture Bill is currently going through Parliament and is the most important bill in this policy area in seventy years.
"Let me be clear; I would never knowingly or deliberately support a bill in the knowledge it would be damaging to the interest of our famers.
"I am saddened to read that some politically motivated groups are reporting incorrect information, which has clearly caused a flurry of correspondence from constituents about this Bill.
"The Trade Bill cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements with countries such as the US. Instead it can only be used to transition the free trade agreements that the UK has been party to through EU membership. All these agreements have already been subject to scrutiny as underlying EU agreements, through the European Scrutiny Committee process or equivalent. Therefore, these clauses were pointless in legislative terms because they legally made no change to the Bill.
"On top of this, trade agreements do not have the power to change UK law. Any potential changes to trade agreements would of course require Parliamentary scrutiny and votes. This includes the SPS standards that protect the quality of food that is imported to the UK."