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Risks to farmers, the environment and consumers - warnings that Government's proposed trade deal with Australia will damage all

September 17, 2021 3:29 PM

Cllr Robin AshbySome win, some lose. Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle yesterday has seen government ministers running in and out of 10 Downing Street hoping to keep their jobs or bag a promotion. But farmers across the country who care about their farm, the environment, and their livelihoods are worried that they and consumers will soon be the losers too.

Boris Johnson has appointed a new Trade Secretary - North East Anne-Marie Trevelyan. She is about to take charge of negotiating trade deals that could have massive impacts on farmers.

The government said earlier this summer that it had agreed a trade deal with Australia, and the government is expected to publish details this autumn. It could even be signed without proper scrutiny by Parliament, like the manifesto promise-breaking tax hike rammed through in a day this week.

"The Australia Trade Deal risks doing enormous damage to farmers, " says Robin Ashby, who speaks for Newcastle Liberal Democrats on trade and business matters. "If reports are true and this deal opens up our market unprotected to Australian produce it will mean:

* Disaster for animal welfare: Australian cattle are fed hormones causing them to over muscle and suffer, and Australia allows 'mulesing' - the barbaric removal of a part of a sheep's skin while it is still alive.
* Risks to human health: Australia allows antibiotics to be used in farming to dangerous levels, leading to anti-biotic resistance and risking human health.
* Dangerous pesticides: Australia has far weaker pesticide standards than the UK. For example, an Australian apple can have as much as 30 times the amount of toxic insecticide buprofezin than a UK apple.

"UK farmers who work to high standards would be unable to compete. The UK's present high standards are there for our protection - and that of animal welfare and our planet - we must not let them slip. Neither must we export our environmental issues elsewhere in the world."