British farmers have expressed concerns that animal welfare standards could be undermined by the UK’s newly-announced free trade deal with Australia.
It comes as acting Australian PM Micheal McCormack told a news channel how good the deal was for Australia, which will further increase concerns in the UK among the farming community in the UK.
Labour has also accused the Government of “screwing over our farmers” after Australia’s trade ministry revealed that tariff-free protection periods would stop in five years for dairy products, and after 10 years for beef and lamb.
Undermines UK farming
NFU president Minette Batters said in a statement: “We will need to know more about any provisions on animal welfare and the environment to ensure our high standards of production are not undermined by the terms of this deal.
“The ultimate test of this trade deal will be whether it contributes to moving farming across the world onto a more sustainable footing, or whether it instead undermines UK farming and merely exports the environmental and animal welfare impact of the food we eat.”
McCormack’s comments will also raise concerns in regards to potential food standards and price wars.
He told the interviewer: “The big winners are Australian producers, Australian farmers, indeed Australians full stop. This could mean a 1.3 billion dollars of boost to the economy.
He continued: “There will be 25,000 tonnes of lamb chops, and others, with duty-free access to UK market right now, potentially 68 million customers bidding for Australia’s wonderful chops, wonderful sheep meat, but beef as well, sugar. Immediate duty-free access to UK markets.
“Eventually, over a period of between 8 and 10 years for those agriculture commodities, there will be no tariffs at all.”
Access to markets
The presenter asked: “How is an Aussie producer going to benefit more from this deal than the last?”
He replied: “It is more access to more markets. So with beef, 35,000 tonnes of beef, will be going into UK market potentially ramping up to 110,000 tonnes over an eight-year period for duty-free access.
“For sheep meat 25,000 to 75,000 tonnes and immediate access for diary, cheeses and for sugar; 80,000 tonnes they are big numbers.
The presenter added: “The problem I forsee this morning already there is blowback from some of the Scottish Beef producers, some of the Welsh beef producers, some of the Northern Ireland beef producers. This is by no means a done deal is it?
To which McCormack replied: “I am not so worried about those ones you mentioned, I am always concerned and always put Australians first. I am worried and concerned about Australian producers and I want what is best for them.”
Michael McCormack(acting Australian PM) – The big winners, in the UK-Australian trade deal, are Australian producers, Australian farmers, indeed Australia full stop… I’m not worried about the Welsh, Scottish & NI beef producers… I want what’s best for Australian producers. pic.twitter.com/HUFgbXsjkT— Haggis_UK ?? ?? (@Haggis_UK) June 16, 2021