Deputy President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Mark Tufnell clarified he and his members were not anti-trade but are simply concerned over the quality of Australian meat flooding the UK market. He explained to Express.co.uk the UK follows some of the most stringent farming controls in the world and was worried a zero-tariff deal may send the wrong message it may be for nothing. Mr Tufnell added he hoped British and Australian meat will be clearly labelled so the consumer can make an informed decision.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Tufnell was asked how he would respond to arguments farmers like himself were against post-Brexit deals.
He said: “The members of our association, our line, is that we are actually very pro-trade and we’re not preventing a deal.
“But, that is a big but, we feel that any form of import that enters this country should meet the high animal welfare and high standards that we have.
“And I don’t think that is an unfair stance to take.”
Mr Tufnell was then asked to expand on his position and to explain what he would like to see as part of the deal.
He told Express.co.uk: “If you look at places like Australia, they have a low cost of production and they have the ability to send a similar product to the UK.
“When I say a similar product, I mean beef, and I don’t think the consumer would necessarily understand the difference between the two.
“Particularly if the beef has been minced and forms parts of ready meals.
“Now how do you know the difference between high-quality Welsh beef and Australian beef?
“Our concern is that we farm to a very high standard and we feel those standards should be applied to the Australians as part of this free trade deal.”
But Mr Tufnell admitted there were positives to the Australian deal which could see British sparkling wine, some of the best in the world in his eyes, would do well in Australian markets.
Australia has a thriving wine industry but has been hit by tariffs from China following political disagreements over the origin of coronavirus.
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China is one of Australia’s biggest markets but has seen tariffs of up to 220 percent slapped on its wine.
In 2019, the Australian wine industry was valued at £1.5billion.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is expected to announce the signing of the Australian trade deal soon as the frontbencher has indicated a desire to sign one before the start of the G7 this weekend.
Some farmers have been vocal in their opposition to the move as they fear they could be competing with Australian beef and feel they have been ignored by the Government.
National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters said without the right checks and balances to protect British farmers she predicts there will be a “complete slow-motion car crash in the countryside.”
But Ms Batters, alongside Mr Tufnell, has been given assurances from Ms Truss that they will protect British farmers during several consultations in May.