Food and Farming

29th June 2020
The Agriculture and Trade Bills now in Parliament have huge consequences for our part of the world.   
 
Mid Norfolk is No1 UK constituency for poultry and No3 for pigs. Food processing is our largest employer and prosperity generator.  It’s clear from my postbag that the majority of my constituents are rightly opposed to selling out UK farming on the altar of cheap foreign food imports. 
 
It’s clear from analysis by the poultry, pork, cereals and sugar beet sectors that if the UK market was flooded with cheap foreign food imports from China, Asia and the USA that undercut our production standards, we would likely see a lot of local rural businesses go out of business, with a serious knock-on effect on the wider local economy. 
 
With thousands of people here in Mid-Norfolk directly employed in farming, food processing, haulage and associated industries, cheap foreign food isn’t much of a solace if you’ve lost your job. 
 
Coming on top of the workforce recruitment crisis now hitting local fresh produce producers as a result of immigration reforms and CoVID, and the major economic crisis looming as the Covid furloughing is withdrawn (50,000 redundancies expected here in Norfolk), this is no time to undermine our local food and farming producers so key to our local economy. 
 
That’s why I’ve been working over the last few months on the Agriculture and Trade Bills in Parliament: urging Ministers in London to make sure that they do not abandon our high UK food safety, countryside management and animal welfare standards and leave our producers undercut, but rather use the trade negotiations to promote UK food and our high standards. 
 
In the 3 weeks I have been working closely with Ministers in DEFRA and DiT and with local food and farming business leaders to try and find a sensible solution. 
 
I’m delighted to report that my Liz Truss has now agreed to the Agriculture & Trade Commission proposed by the NFU, and we are now in discussion about what the right mechanism is for ensuring Government gets this right. 
 
I attach: 
• My recent statements on this issue HERE and HERE
• My message on BBC Radio Norfolk HERE
 
I will continue to take a stand on this one. 
 
It’s too important to get wrong.  Yours,
 
George Freeman MP
Member of Parliament for Mid Norfolk.