The cattle are doing another sweep of the grass fields much their relief. They were fed up with eating hay in the middle of the summer, and so were we were considering the still relatively empty hay barn. However they look remarkably well. Livestock tend to thrive during dry conditions, they are less likely to pick up parasites which play havoc with their immunity and development.
The winter barley is now rapidly turning. At this rate we will be harvesting the earliest I can remember. The downside is that the crop is under developed with short straw and small seed grains. I sincerely hope others will fare better than us with their arable crops this summer.
I am uneasy about the raft of petitions doing the rounds, some endorsed by ‘celebrities’ and national newspapers. Well intentioned as they are, they do not tell the true story regarding the Government’s trade negotiations with the USA. There have been many misleading and false claims in the media and from other organisations and political bodies, regarding the risk to animal welfare standards and import of cheap and poor quality food, which could threat the livelihoods of livestock farmers.
Amongst these voices are those of the NFU leadership. During the Referendum this same leadership religiously followed the project fear band wagon, and now, seeing an opportunity to kick Boris and his Government for daring to win the Brexit argument, and indeed the General Election, they are at it again.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the UK Government will not compromise on British standards. As Liz Truss and George Eustice once again made very clear last week, the Government’s manifesto stated that in all their trade negotiations they would not compromise on high environmental protection, animal welfare, and food standards. It has been made clear that the EU Withdrawal Act transfers all existing food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book.
These import standards include a ban on using artificial hormones in domestic and imported products, and sets out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.
The UK’s food standards, for both domestic and imported products, are overseen by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. Both are independent agencies and provide advice to the UK and Scottish governments. They will continue to do so to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards.
The presumption is that the Prime Minister and his ministers are selling British farmers short, and reneging on promises made during the Brexit Referendum. Why would they? As Theresa Villiers reminded us in her article in the Mail on Sunday, the UK market for food and groceries is the third largest in the world. It is a massive prize for any country to be allowed greater access to trade with us. The Government should not and will not put at risk food safety and high standards.
If the US wish to sell beef and chickens into the UK market that is fine as long as their welfare and food production standards match ours. Taking into account that each year 50 million Americans become ill from their food, they need to start doing some serious catching up.
The public want good quality safe food, preferably made by British producers. As this is also exactly what Boris and his Government are aiming for, I do not see what all the fuss is about.