If elected, the Labour Party will not countenance a race to the bottom on animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards, says Shadow Defra Secretary Sue Hayman.
Farmers Guardian is not supporting any political party in the December election.
During the course of the campaign, we will be carrying or have carried articles from Conservative, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and Brexit Party candidates or members.
This election provides Britain with a choice – more of the same with a looming threat of no-deal Brexit under the Tories, or real change and a sensible resolution to Brexit, put back in the hands of the people, with Labour.
Getting Brexit right is an existential issue for the UK farming sector.
The NFU’s 2019 election priorities correctly set out why a no-deal outcome would be such a devastating blow for agriculture in Britain and Northern Ireland.
Under no circumstances can Labour countenance a no-deal scenario. In Government, we would waste no time in negotiating a good deal with the EU which would safeguard farmers’ livelihoods and uphold high standards for consumers, before putting it back to the public for everyone to have a final say on that deal versus remain.
The Tory vision for Brexit, by keeping no-deal on the table, does not rule out a race to the bottom on animal welfare, environmental, and food safety standards.
Nor does it rule out costly and disruptive checks at customs.
Labour’s Brexit deal would be centred on a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union, allowing the UK to benefit from joint UK-EU trade deals, and close alignment with the single market, ensuring we have a strong future economic relationship with the EU which supports the agricultural sector.
The NFU is calling for free and frictionless trade with the EU market while protecting our very high standards, and this is exactly what Labour’s new deal would deliver.
Given that 62 per cent of our food and drink exports go into the EU single market, this must be an utmost priority to ensure the continued strength of the UK food and drink industry.
Labour will secure robust and legally binding protections for workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections, and ensure level playing field protections are maintained.
Labour will never accept a Brexit outcome which puts rights and standards at risk. Our Brexit deal will ensure imported food will be produced to the same standards which are legally required of British farmers.
Labour will scrap the Tories’ proposed Brexit legislation and introduce new legislation which is in line with Labour’s priorities and principles to protect our economy, trade, jobs and rights.
This will include new legislation to ensure long-term support and certainty for UK farmers, and protection for our natural environment.
Labour will maintain agricultural and rural structural funds, supporting environmental land management and sustainable methods of food production.
We will invest in more county farms to replace those lost, and work with agricultural organisations to increase access into farming for new entrants.
We will put farmers, food producers and workers at the heart of our plans for delivering healthy food locally.
We will support local food networks, expand access to farm holdings, and ensure rights of union representation for all food and agricultural workers.
We will re-establish an Agricultural Wages Board in England, so every part of the UK is covered.
We are facing a climate and environment emergency, and unlike the Tories, we will not trade our environment in pursuit of reckless trade agreements.
By working in partnership with the sector, we aim to achieve net-zero-carbon food production in Britain by 2040.
A vote for Labour at this election is a vote in support of our thriving British agricultural sector.
Farmers and their livelihoods will be hit worst by Boris Johnson’s damaging and discredited Brexit deal – that’s why Labour’s priority will be to negotiate a deal which safeguards frictionless trade and upholds high standards.
The Tories have failed for three years to get Brexit sorted, in a shambles of repeated delays and continued uncertainty.
Farmers and food producers are crying out for Westminster to finally focus on the wider challenges they face.
Labour is ready to deliver for the farming sector.
Sue can be found tweeting @SueHayman1