Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today backed concerns voiced by NFU President Minette Batters that future trade deals involving agriculture could lead to the “insane” and “morally bankrupt” situation of farmers facing competition from food products which would be illegal to produce in the UK. Environment Secretary, George Eustice, was recently criticised after refusing to rule out chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef being imported from the US under a new deal.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“The strength of the language from the President of the NFU is a testament to how deep these concerns run. Farmers and crofters across the UK deserve far better than this tone-deaf approach from the Government.
“It is incomprehensible, that in the face of growing alarm from farmers and food producers about the risks of an agricultural free-for-all in Brexit trade deals, the Government’s solution is to add fuel to the fire with their failure to give reassurance to the industry.
“At a time when local farmers need confidence more than ever, the Government is sowing confusion.”
At the NFU's annual conference on Tuesday, Ms Batters said:
"This isn't just about chlorinated chicken. This is about a wider principle.
"We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung."
She said: "To sign up to a trade deal which results in opening our ports, shelves and fridges to food which would be illegal to produce here would not only be morally bankrupt, it would be the work of the insane."