LETTER – Trade deal with Australia does not replace the EU
He said there was no point in the UK having high environmental and animal welfare standards if food produced to lower standards was imported.
Three years later, the Tories are now desperate to strike new trade deals after Brexit and the deal with Australia will be the first
They see it as a stepping stone to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, joining a trade bloc on the other side of the world.
It does not replace being a member of the world’s largest trading bloc on our doorstep and the inevitable increase in carbon emissions mocks their green agenda.
Animal welfare standards in Australia are well below British and European standards. Sheep are subjected to the cruel practice of mulesing and the cattle are raised in American style feedlots and given synthetic hormones to increase fattening, a practice banned in the UK and the EU.
Still, the government is on the verge of signing a trade deal that will result in zero tariffs and quotas on Australian beef and lamb imports within 15 years – even though the Department of International Trade has predicted that an Australian trade deal would result in an increase of just 0.025% GDP.
Speaking on BBC Politics Wales Montgomeryshire, MP Craig Williams said many farmers voted to leave the EU to enter new markets such as Australia.
I campaigned against Brexit and none of the many farmers I spoke to gave that reason to vote.
In fact, we could export all over the world as a member of the EU anyway, but it makes financial and environmental sense to sell to our nearest neighbors.
Is Mr Williams really suggesting that beef and lamb exports to Australia and other countries (possibly China, as his boss mentioned in the House of Commons last week) could replace part of our trade with the EU? Or is it additional trade?
So where do you find the capacity given that the Conservatives want to take farmland out of production and even offer to pay farmers to give up farming altogether?
The logical result would be to lower our standards, the opposite of stated government policy.
As I pointed out in my letter last November, the current standards are not written into the agriculture bill because ministers have said it will “tie hands in trade negotiations”.
If we maintain the current standards our farmers will be at a great disadvantage, the alternative is a race to the bottom.
Our fishing industry has been given high visibility in the Brexit negotiations, but UK fishermen have been thrown under the bus.
Now the Conservatives are treating farmers with contempt. Mark Drakeford even said an Australian trade deal would put Welsh cultural identity at stake.