Gordon MP Richard Thomson has echoed criticism of the UK Government’s trade deal with Australia made by farming bodies and animal welfare groups who have expressed concern at the lower standards of animal welfare legislation in Australia compared to here.
NFU Scotland recently gave evidence to a House of Lords Committee where it described the safeguards of the deal as “very short-term” and not in line with those promised to the sector prior to the agreement made by the UK government, adding: “After 15 years, there is no recourse at all, and that could impact significantly on the farming sector in Scotland”.
The RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming have also made strongly-worded attacks on the deal.
In addition, the new deal does not retain existing lamb and beef quota and tariffs nor does it reflect UK seasonality of product. The UK Government has also failed to maintain the current split between fresh and frozen product as well as ensure that any quota changes are cut-specific and favour the premium cuts. These measures would have helped give Scottish produce an advantage as well as guard it against unfair competition.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“This statement from the NFUS is one of the strongest yet against the Australian trade deal and underlines what the SNP has been saying from the outset.
“Beyond the rhetoric thrown at us from the UK Government, this deal with Australia opens up Scotland’s market to cheaper imports of goods which, in turn, leads to lower animal welfare standards.
“This results in Scotland’s farmers and food producers being undercut and undermined by a Conservative Government who simply do not care for their welfare or livelihoods.
“Even the UK Government’s own assessments confirm this. Their economic analysis also suggests that the UK’s GDP will increase by only 0.08% as a result of this deal, while Brexit would lead to a 4.9% contraction in GDP.
“It is increasingly clear that Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for Scotland’s economy, businesses and people – something the SNP warned would happen repeatedly throughout the Brexit campaign. The more I see of Brexit Britain the more I’m convinced Scottish farming’s best future lies with Scotland managing its own affairs.”