Farmers have stepped up to feed the nation only to find MPs have turned their backs - Sophie McCandlish

It beggars belief that an amendment that would have safeguarded our animal welfare and food- production standards has been voted down by MPs.

The amendment to the Agriculture Bill would have safeguarded the UK's high welfare and environment standards in any future trade deals

This is despite the Government having given its assurances it would protect UK farmers and the British public from cheap imported food produced to standards that in many cases are much lower than here. This same Bill lays out a new payment system which focuses on “public money for public goods”, financially rewarding farmers for improving animal welfare, air and water quality, planting new hedges and taking steps to combat climate change.

All of which have been welcomed by the farming, conservation and welfare organisations.

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So our farming industry will be held to this high standard but food produced to lower standards – some of which would be illegal in the UK – will potentially be welcomed on to our shelves as part of future trade deals.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit we have seen farmers in all sectors pushed to the wall.

The overnight closure of the service industry meant beef, dairy and ornamental farmers were suddenly left without a market place. Farms that have diversified into farm shops, cafes and B&Bs found themselves in an “adapt or die” situation and the demand for food has not been as high since the war.

Unable to find what they need on supermarket shelves, people have looked closer to home, finding veg, flour, meat, milk and bread produced on their doorstep or within a few miles of it.

Producers have started drive-thrus, click and collect, delivery services and helped vulnerable people stay safe and, most importantly, fed.

We are in a time of national crisis and MPs across the spectrum, including the Prime Minister, have talked with pride about how our farmers are feeding the nation, they have stepped up for their communities - only to see MPs turn their backs when it came to securing their industry’s future.

The Bill has now moved to the House of Lords and it is to be hoped they will give time and consideration to what the true impact of having no safeguard could have on our food security.