UK Trade Minister, Greg Hands, met with a number of Borders farmers on Friday (18th June) to discuss concerns about the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Local MP, John Lamont, set up the meeting to give local farmers the opportunity to speak directly with the government minister responsible for the Agreement.
The trade deal will remove tariffs for businesses and customers buying from each nation. It will also be made easier for young people to live and work in the two countries.
There have been concerns that the deal will lead to a poorer standard of meat flooding the UK market.
However, the minister highlighted that strict animal welfare and food production laws in the UK will be kept in place. This means that it will be illegal for products such as hormone treated beef from Australia to enter the UK market.
Similarly, farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards, meaning there will be no influx of meat products from Australia.
John Lamont MP said:
“It was very generous of the Minister for Trade Policy to join local farmers on Friday at such short notice to discuss any concerns they may have.
“It’s vital that we strike trade deals with our partners around the world, creating jobs and promoting our brand.
“However, this must not be at the expense of our high food standards.
“The UK Government is absolutely clear. Animal welfare and food production standards in the UK will not be reduced. This means no hormone injected beef or chlorinated chicken.”
Rachael Hamilton MSP, Scottish Conservative Rural Affairs Spokesperson, added:
“It was great for Greg Hands MP to meet Borders’ farmers virtually to discuss the Australia trade deal.
“He gave robust reassurances that under no circumstances would any products be imported that fell short of the UK’s high standards.
“The appropriate safeguards are also in place to ensure that Scottish farmers are protected; whilst offering new export opportunities.
“The deal also is a big win for the Scotch whisky industry, which in turn will benefit the wider supply chain, including Scottish farmers who supply excellent malting barley.
“The SNP always stoke grievances, never welcoming free trade deals and continually keeping farmers in the dark with no direction on future farm policy plans”.