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The debate continues on important legislation.
Charlotte Newton, Chartered Surveyor and Grants specialist appeared in this month's Northern Farming Magazine (November cover) giving her her views on the potential changes to food standards as the final stages of the Agricultural Bill is debated. She also discusses further legislation regarding the environment.
Debate over Bills goes on
Charlotte Newton, Chartered Surveyor and rural grant specialist. Vickers & Barrass, Chartered Surveyors, Land and Estate Agents. The final debating stage of the Agriculture Bill is a time when the new legislation will take shape and amendments proposed by the House of Lords either accepted or rejected. “Public opinion seems to be split on the emotive subject of food standards”, reports Charlotte Newton, Chartered Surveyor specialising in rural grants at north east firm Vickers and Barrass, Chartered Surveyors, Land and Estate Agents. “With the final stage of the Agriculture Bill now heading through the House of Commons, most of the amendments, which were tabled by the House of Lords, are expected to be rejected by the Commons and removed.” says Charlotte. These amendments include: requirements for food imports and standards plus the application of pesticides near any building used for human habitation in any building or open space used for work or recreation; or any public or private building where members of the public may be present (including but not limited to - schools and childcare nurseries and hospitals).
Lord Curry’s amendment backed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) looked to strengthen the role of the newly formed ‘Trade and Agriculture Commission’. Charlotte feels that “there seems a reluctance within government to enshrine in legislation the standards of food production and animal welfare, which the Lords and several high-profile individuals are asking for.” Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has voiced his fears in the press recently recognising the impact on British farmers of an 'influx of lower standard products”. Charlotte says ‘the main concerns cover the importation of chlorinated chicken and beef produced using hormones both from the USA. Both these practises are outlawed in the EU and concerns are that products using these treatments will be allowed into the UK supply chain.”
Charlotte points out “However, now the House of Commons has rejected both the aforementioned amendments; that a government spokesperson recently commented ‘Chlorinated chicken and hormone injected beef are not permitted for import into the UK.” This will be retained through the EU Withdrawal Act and enshrined in UK law at the end of the transition period.” It's Charlotte’s viewpoint that now “it will be a case of waiting to see if the legislation is robust enough to give the re-assurances so many British producers and consumers are asking for.”
The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains in law our standards on environmental protections, animal welfare, animal and plant health and food safety at the end of the transition period. This provides a firm basis for maintaining the same high level of protection for both domestic and imported products. Charlotte makes reference to Lord Gardiner recent comments, where he stated “This includes the EU law banning the import and production of hormone-treated beef, which has been transposed into domestic law and will continue to operate in the UK after the end of the transition period, applying in all parts of the UK.” He also reiterated “that existing food safety provisions relating to pathogen reduction treatments permitted on poultry carcasses will continue to operate independently in UK law after the transition period.” It remains the case in the UK that no substances other than potable water are approved to wash poultry carcasses.”
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