Agriculture Bill (Report Stage)

Example Email Correspondence

Dear Mr Watling,

As the UK leaves the EU, the Agriculture Bill provides a once in a generation opportunity to radically transform the way that British farming works. We have an opportunity to completely overhaul the farm subsidy system into something meaningful that benefits all stakeholders: animals, farmers and consumers.

As someone who cares about animal welfare and agriculture, I am pleased to see that the Bill sets out a system that rewards and incentivises farmers for the work they do to improve the welfare of their animals. This is a considerable positive change for farm animal welfare in this country that I hope you will join me in welcoming and supporting.

I believe there are ways that the Bill could be strengthened however.

Our robust animal welfare standards are one of the things that makes British produce so unique and high quality, and it’s very important to me that these standards - and the farmers who help deliver them - are protected after Brexit. I am concerned about the impact that the UK’s future trade deals could have on our standards. The possibility of cheap imports of lower welfare products (such as chlorine washed chicken and hormone treated beef) being sold in the UK could seriously undermine our standards and the commercial viability of many farm businesses. I’m disappointed that the Agriculture Bill doesn’t have anything to say on this vital issue. I would therefore ask you to vote in favour of Amendment NC1 when the Bill has its Report Stage to make sure that this is addressed and that UK standards are expressly protected in law.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and I hope you will consider using your vote during the Report Stage  of the Agriculture Bill to support this Amendment.


My Reply

Thank you for contacting me about New Clause 1 to the Agriculture Bill, which seeks to secure animal welfare standards after Brexit.

I will not be supporting this amendment, because it is simply not necessary. The Trade Act, passed earlier this year, already mandates public consultations ahead of any negotiations for new trade agreements, while any final agreement will be scrutinised and ratified by Parliament - so NC1 is simply a duplication of that Act. Moreover, these measures will ensure that both Parliament and the public can have their say on the content of any potential new trade agreements, including in the area of animal welfare standards - simply put, there will be no chlorine washed chicken or hormone treated beef without Parliament's consent, and I have my own concerns about these lower welfare products.

Outside the EU, the UK will also have an independent seat at bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and others, and be in a better position to promote improved animal welfare standards internationally. Furthermore, EU rules currently prevent our country from restricting or banning live animal exports, which is why I am glad that there has been a recent call for evidence to consider the best ways to control live animal exports and improve conditions for animals during transport after we leave the EU - I will support this change after Brexit to improve animal welfare.

Rest assured, I am committed to maintaining the UK's high animal welfare standards as we leave the EU, this includes in any future free trade agreements that we strike with countries around the world.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.