Tiverton & Honiton’s MP Richard Foord has slammed the Government’s ‘botched’ Australia and New Zealand trade deals, warning they risk driving already struggling farmers across the West Country out of business. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Foord drew attention to the huge impact being caused by these trade deals – caused by opening UK markets to produce made to lower standards abroad.
Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com
He also raised the ongoing issues with rollout of the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) which is seeing the Basic Payment, the current farming subsidy, reduced before ELMs payments fully kick in.
Warning of the huge threat these deals post to 64,000 people across the South West who work in Agriculture, Mr Foord called for MPs to have a stronger say in the terms of new trade deals and for protecting UK industries to be central to future negotiating priorities.
His comments come in the wake of former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice similarly criticising the deals, saying they were: “not actually a very good deal for the UK – the UK gave away far too much for far too little in return”.
The debate granted today by the Government was a ‘General Debate’, meaning the motion MPs were discussing was neutrally worded and unamendable. This meant that any vote on it would have no binding impact on the Government’s approach, contrary to a more substantive debate as was requested by the Parliamentary International Trade Committee.
Speaking after the debate, Richard Foord MP said: “It’s clear that this Conservative government either don’t get it, or they simply do not care.
“Their botched trade deals are putting the future of local farmers here in Devon at risk, by allowing lower quality produce to flood our markets. It’s ludicrous that the Government expects them to compete when these deals tie not one, but both hands behind their backs.
“And the trade-off for all the pain and misery set to be inflicted on rural communities by both of these deals? A whopping 0.11% increase to our GDP. This is drop in the ocean compared to the huge turmoil and hurt it will cause for local farmers.
“Even the former Secretary of State has come out and admitted the deals are bad, giving away far too much. No wonder the Government would only give us a hollow debate, which lacked any chance for us to actually change their approach.
“The whole situation is a scandal. We must ensure MPs have the final say on not only the terms of trade deals, but also the negotiating priorities and red lines. This is the only way we can ensure our world leading farming and fishing industries are properly protected.”