I believe that we need to move away from highly intensive, environmentally damaging farming methods.
I am committed to promoting best practice in cruelty-free animal husbandry and ensuring better enforcement of agreed standards. I believe we need to end the ‘cage age’ of outdated farming practices that cause animals distress and restrict natural behaviours.
When the Agriculture Bill was debated in the House of Commons last year, I supported amendments aimed at better protecting farm animal welfare and ending the use of cages and intensive farming practices. I voted for amendments to both the Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill requiring that food imports meet animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards at least as high as those required of UK produced agricultural goods. Unfortunately, all of these amendments were rejected by the Government.
It is crucial that post-Brexit trade deals do not undercut British farming in a race to the bottom on environmental and animal welfare standards.
In March 2021, the Trade and Agriculture Commission published its recommendations on future trade deals, advising the Government to show world leadership in embedding animal welfare into trade policy and to play a leadership role in international forums to raise worldwide standards of animal welfare. Ministers need to take note of this report and ensure that they make good on their manifesto promise on food import standards.
The Government has commissioned Henry Dimbleby to lead an independent review to inform a National Food Strategy. Part one was published in July and part two is expected later this year. I understand the Government plans to produce a White Paper six months after the publication of the second report.
I will be looking very carefully at any measures the Government brings forward on this issue.