Cornwall Liberal Democrats have welcomed the government’s announcement that it will set up a Trade and Agriculture Commission. However, they say that unless the body has real teeth it will not be taken seriously.
The Government’s announcement followed a concerted national lobby from the National Farmers Union and others as well as local campaigning from the Liberal Democrats concerned with animal welfare standards and sustainable food. More than a million people signed a petition calling on the government to protect standards.
But Liberal Democrats in Cornwall are warning that unless the body has the strength to make binding recommendations it could be used to provide a fig leaf for lowering our high food, farming and environmental standards – especially as the government seeks to strike a trade deal with the USA and others.
Ruth Gripper, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Truro and Falmouth said:
“Setting up a trade and agriculture commission is clearly a step in the right direction, but the devil is in the detail with this government. The only thing we know about this new commission so far is that its recommendations will be advisory only. That’s simply not good enough.
“The government says it is committed to maintaining our high standards – but just a few weeks ago they whipped their MPs to vote against measures that would have done this.
“The only way we can be sure the government won’t sell us out in future trade deals is by using the law to protect standards.”
Danny Chambers, local vet and Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for North Cornwall added:
“Trade deals that sacrifice our current standards are bad for British farmers, bad for animal welfare and bad for the environment.
“Over 1 million people signed the NFU petition on maintaining our animal welfare and food production standards in trade deals. This shows the British public really do care about animal welfare, food quality and British farming, even if our MPs don’t.
“It is frustrating that so many organisations have to lobby so hard to force our Conservative MPs to keep their manifesto promises to support British agriculture.”