Blog: What is the Brexit Agriculture Bill and why are MPs and Jamie Oliver angry about it? – iNews

Parliament is preparing for a showdown in the House of Commons on Monday as MPs vote on crucial amendments to the post-Brexit Agriculture Bill.

Activists say the amendments will secure British food and animal welfare standards after the UK leaves the European Union at the end of this year.  

It comes amid growing disquiet at the country entering a “race to the bottom” when strict EU protocols no longer apply. The Government is trying to defeat the amendments.

The i politics newsletter cut through the noise

Here’s what MPs will be voting on and why it all matters.

What’s it all about? 

The Agriculture Bill sets out the UK’s plan for farming after Brexit, including what subsidies farmers will receive after the UK has left the Common Agricultural Policy.

Broadly, the Government’s plan to reward farmers for doing “public good” such as planting trees or improving water quality has been welcomed.  

GROSSDERSCHAU, GERMANY - AUGUST 14: In this aerial view combines harvest summer wheat at a cooperative farm on August 14, 2015 near Grossderschau, Germany. The German Farmers' Association (Deutscher Bauernverband) is due to announce annual grain harvest results this week. Some farmers have reported a disappointing harvest due to the dry weather in recent months. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
There is concern that food standards will become lax after Brexit (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

But the issue of animal welfare and food standards has emerged as a serious political flashpoint that cuts to the heart of Britain’s post-Brexit policy.  

The Government has repeatedly promised to uphold food and animal welfare standards after Brexit, when the UK will be free from EU-wide regulations governing imports.  

But campaigners fear the pressure to sign off post-Brexit trade deals will lead to politicians agreeing to the import of foods such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef into the UK.

They want a Government promise written into the Bill that food and agricultural imports to Britain must meet UK standards.  

Why is Jamie Oliver so angry?

A petition set up by the National Farmers Union has gathered more than one million signatures from the public.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is an outspoken supporter, backed by fellow chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Delia Smith and Anna Jones. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Jamie Oliver broadcasts a live cooking class from City Hall to school children across the globe as part of the third annual Food Revolution Day on May 16, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Chef Jamie Oliver is campaigning over the Bill (Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Mr Oliver argues the legislation, if passed unamended, will spark a “race to the bottom” that will flood the UK market with low quality food and threaten the livelihoods of farmers and food producers across the country.  

Environmentalists say the amendments would help curb British support for dubious farming practices around the world, which are fuelling deforestation, climate change and biodiversity loss.

The amendments

Last month the House of Lords approved two key amendments to the legislation that would satisfy the NFU and its supporters. 

The first would require all agriculture and food imports to meet domestic production standards. The second would give the new Trade and Agriculture Commission the power to scrutinise all future trade deals.  

The House of Commons will vote on these amendments on Monday.

Will the amendments pass?

Labour leader Keir Starmer has already said his party will support the amendments, and around two dozen Conservative MPs also plan to back the amendments. 

But despite fierce lobbying, the Government has signalled it will instruct its MPs to vote against it. Ministers are thought to be eager not to tie the hands of negotiators battling to secure free trade agreements.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s