Dozens on farmers in tractors circled Melton Mowbray yesterday (Thursday, October 29th) to raise their concerns.
The event was organised by campaign group, Save British Farming, ahead of the Agriculture Bill ping-ponging back from the House of Lords to the Commons.
Next week, MPs will once again be asked to vote to stand up for British farmers by voting for amendments to hold up high standards.
The group claims the government is “selling British farmers down the river” by seeking to pass bills which will “ditch UK animal welfare and environmental standards for imported food”.
The group stressed that this will flood the market with cheap, low-quality products and “destroy” Britain’s world-class farming industry.
As UK-EU negotiations falter, says Save British Farming, a no-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome that puts British farming at the mercy of the US farm lobby.
Lookalikes to iconic brands
The group said the loss of legal protection imitation offered by EU rules, when the transition ends in January, means that it is possible for rivals to start producing lookalikes to iconic brands.
Melton Mowbray pork pies have protected geographical indication status. This acts like a trademark to stop manufacturers from outside a region copying a regional product.
Stilton is covered by a protected designation of origin, which is linked to the region a product comes from.
There are 73 such protected food names in the UK, including wines, beers, ciders, and spirits as well as wool. Other protected foodstuffs include Cornish pasties, Whitstable oyster, Scotch beef, Jersey royal potatoes and Anglesey sea salt.
“So far, MPs have resisted amendments on two occasions which would have protected British produce from low-quality imports undercutting them on the supermarket shelves.”
This, the group said, is despite polls showing that between 80% and 94% of people are against lowering food standards.
Steve Elnor, said: “I have a small farm near Grantham and my family have been farmers for many generations. In that time, agriculture has evolved, and my family has adapted how we have farmed.”
“But now, rather than facing evolution, we are facing a revolution. I worry it is something that we, and many other family farms won’t be able to adapt to.”
“We face uncertainty from January 1st, 2021, not knowing what the market and prices will be.”
“We also face a massive threat from the government’s apparent determination to tear apart the USP of British food to strike trade deals in desperation – high quality, affordable food produced to the highest environmental and welfare standards.”
“I call on the government to listen to the public and put in place legislation that will ensure the British public can be content that they’ll continue to be able to buy the food they want.”
‘Selling British farmers down the river’
Liz Webster, Founder of Save British Farming and farmer’s wife, said, “This Government was elected on a manifesto which promised to uphold British food, animal welfare and environmental standards. Now, they are bamboozling us with a myriad of excuses for selling British farmers down the river.”
“In truth, it’s because they are desperate to do a deal with the USA. Sadly, the trade-off means we have to doff our caps to America First demands and allow them to dominate and decimate our British agriculture and culture.”
“Opinion polls show up to 94% of the British public are united against the Government: we love our heritage and culture which is steeped in centuries of history. This is a massive betrayal.”