The Tariff-free trade deal with Australia being offered at the end of May, split Cabinet over food. Environment Secretary George Eustice was concerned that because of scale of livestock farming in the Antipodes, UK farmers could be undercut.
Whilst these differences have been patched up in Westminster, the National Farmers Union is concerned that hundreds of UK livestock farmers will go out of business as a result of the deal. The Scottish and Welsh governments want protection for farmers and Northern Ireland remains opposed to the proposed deal.
Sustain, the alliance for a better systems of food, farming and fishing, however, concerns about the environmental, animal welfare and food standards under which Australian meat is produced. Any lowering of UK standards may open further deals with the likes of Brazil and the USA. In all three places, antibiotic use, hormone and meat chlorination are all permitted, they say.
But with LPFs policy monitoring, two other issues seem pertinent. A raft of reports in the past 3 years, from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all offer two ‘food’ headlines for improving both human health planetary health. These are, firstly to eat less meat and secondly, to reduce food miles.
Importing meat from the other side of the world doesn’t sit well with either of these pieces of expert advice.