Skip to main content

Trade Deals: Farmers and Food Producers

Volume 709: debated on Thursday 3 March 2022

Our aim is to support and promote farmers and producers, to create opportunities for them and to ensure they have the knowledge and support to capitalise on those new opportunities, to be a positive force for improving standards and to ensure that our producers do not face unfair competition.

Environmental regulations and restrictions, on pesticides for example, are there for good reason, but they cost our farmers money either in sourcing alternatives or in lower yields. The farmers I speak to are very concerned about the use of chemicals, such as Paraquat in Australia and neonicotinoids in large parts of the European Union, that they are not allowed to use here. Their costs are therefore higher. Will these matters be addressed in the trade deals so that we get a fair and level playing field?

There are many things we can do to drive international standards, to improve animal welfare and to encourage others not to use particular pesticides that affect insects we are keen to have around a bit more. There are many things we can do outside free trade agreements, and we have done them. As my hon. Friend knows, we have championed many of these issues.

I have a responsibility to understand the opportunities for our farmers not just in volume but in value, and to understand the additional costs they may face in producing very high-quality produce, which is obviously welcome. I have a deep and growing understanding of these matters, and I work closely with our colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We understand the detail, we are talking to agriculture commissioners and Ministers around the world, and we will arrive at the right place in all the trade deals, which are obviously bespoke to each nation.

In October 2020 the Department for International Trade said that, within five months, up to 77 extra British food and drink products would get protected status in Japan, thanks to the UK-Japan trade deal, highlighting Carmarthen ham, Shetland wool, Yorkshire rhubarb and Lakeland Herdwick lamb among the products that would benefit. Can the Minister confirm that, despite all the time that has passed, during which 56 new EU products have been recognised in Japan, fewer than half the UK products we were promised have even reached the consultation stage, including none of the specific products I mentioned?

I would be happy to update the hon. Gentleman with the specifics, but our analysis shows that the deal we have done with Japan will, in the long run, increase our trade but also improve our workers’ wages. These are good things. We obviously require other nations to put through legislation, to scrutinise and to get processes through their own Parliaments and committees, but that is what we will work towards. Those things will improve our economy and make a real difference to our workers and producers.