News Sustainable Farming Campaign

Farmers call on MPs to support food and farming standards in the Ag Bill

Close to a thousand farmers have added their names to an open letter to MPs, calling on them to accept a food and farming standards amendment in the Agriculture Bill.

Credit: James Woodward

Credit: James Woodward

Led by Sustain, a group of well-known farmers, including Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy’s Farm, Helen and James Rebanks of English Pastoral, Hannah Jackson the Red Shepherdess, Helen Browning OBE Chief Executive of the Soil Association, and Patrick Holden CBE Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, put out the call last week in an open letter that featured in The Times, Farmers Weekly and the Yorkshire Post.

This call to arms has led to almost 1000 farmers from accross the UK adding their name in the space of 72 hours. The number continues to grow and we encourage farmers and farm workers to keep joining and sharing the letter.

You can access the full letter here.

The surge in sign-ups comes as Jamie Oliver released figures showing that more than 2.65 million people have signed petitions calling for environmental, animal welfare and health standards to be upheld and more than 260,000 emails on the issue have been sent to MPs.

Vicki Hird, head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain said “farmers are sending a very clear message in this letter to parliamentarians. They want UK standards on environment, welfare and food to be maintained and not undermined by lower standard agri-food imports. Whilst the new statutory basis for the Trade and Agriculture Commission and reporting to Parliament is welcome, it is certainly not enough.”

It is now down to MPs to listen to their constituents and the nation as a whole, and get behind amendment 16B when the Bill returns to the Commons on Wednesday 4th November.

Here is the text from the letter:

We are a group of farmers calling on MPs to enshrine our environment, animal welfare and food standards that we are proud to work to, in the Agriculture Bill.

Various trade and legal experts have said it is possible to follow international trade laws and restrict low-quality imports. The government should explore this route. We also know that farmers in developing nations already trade with us on our terms and that high standards are good for all parties involved. We should not sign trade deals that encourage a race to the bottom for farmers anywhere.

Importing low-quality agri-food products presents the prospect of pushing British farmers over the cliff-edge and further degrading the environment. Neither we nor the public want this, as repeated surveys and petitions have shown.

By enshrining standards into law, MPs will be providing the bedrock from which British farmers and food producers can build a more sustainable and thriving future. Surely this is something that you want to champion.

Jimmy Doherty, Ipswich, Suffolk; Helen and James Rebanks, Penrith, Cumbria; Helen Browning OBE, Bishopstone, Wiltshire; Hannah Jackson, Croglin, Cumbria; Patrick Holden CBE, Ceredigion, Wales; Jake Fiennes, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk; Joe Stanley, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire; Alastair Leake, Loddington, Rutland; Daniel Burdett, Haywards Heath, West Sussex; Neil Heseltine, Malham, Yorkshire Dales; Jim Beary, Peak District, South Yorkshire; Fidelity Weston, Sevenoaks, Kent; and, Martin Lines, Cambridgeshire.

You can find the letter here.

Published Tuesday 3 November 2020

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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