The third and final reading of the Agricultural Bill in the House of Commons took place on the 13th May which saw MPs vote on a number of amendments. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the first-ever virtual vote took place, which saw a few ’teething problems’ with some MPs voting in error for certain amendments.
A majority of MPs voted against one of the most important pieces of legislation for farmers by 328 to 277 votes. The ‘new Clause 2’ which would protect UK farmers from low food standards by preventing the import of agricultural and food products that do not comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) safety rules and the UK’s own standards, failed to receive support from the government.
The new amendment was backed by a number of farming groups who have campaigned extensively to gather support to push the amendment through. One of these was a letter from members of the National Farmers Union (NFU), and other environmental and animal welfare organisations, urging the 650 MPs to ensure that food imported into the UK in any potential post-Brexit trade deals would meet the same high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection as is expected of UK food producers.