Farming’s fury over Australia trade deal must be heeded – The Yorkshire Post says

THE clear Cabinet rift over agriculture – and, specifically, the terms of the proposed post-Brexit trade deal with Australia – needs to be seen in the context of the Ministerial triumvirate at the centre of the dispute.

Liz Truss, the current International Trade Secretary (right), with NFU president Minette Batters.
Liz Truss, the current International Trade Secretary (right), with NFU president Minette Batters.

Liz Truss the current International Trade Secretary who says Britain is in a “sprint” to sign off a deal with Australia, was Environment Secretary from 2014-2016, including the Yorkshire floods.

Meanwhile Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister who is trying to appease the concerns of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, ran Defra from 2017-19 while George Eustice has been tasked, since February last year, with presiding over farming’s interests.

Not only have the trio all pledged, repeatedly, to protect the interests of farmers and food producers, but all three are now widely regarded as the Cabinet’s most committed Brexiteers (even though Ms Truss was originally a reluctant Remainer).

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is a former Environment Secretary.

And the fact that they clearly can’t agree, amongst themselves, if Australian beef and sheep farmers should, just like the EU, have tariff-free access to UK markets and undercut domestic producers does not bode well.

Just like fishing, it appears that Brexit is still to become the panacea they envisaged. Instead, to paraphrase NFU president Minette Batters, this deal has all the hallmarks of a slow-motion car crash with Yorkshire and British farmers as the test dummies.

That’s not taking back control. It’s a possible betrayal of a proud industry which is a world-leader when it comes to both food quality and welfare standards – and where the margins between profit or loss are very fine indeed.

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George Eustice is the current Environment Secretary.