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Caldecott farmer expresses concerns that a trade deal with Australia could hit British farmers hard

A farmer whose family has worked the land in Rutland for 300 years believes a new trade deal could lead to lower-quality food being sold.

Andrew Brown from Caldecott has expressed concerns that a trade deal with Australia could hit British farmers hard.

He is raising awareness of the Save British Farmingcampaign and issues they believe will have an inreversible effect on the food people eat.

Andrew Brown, a farmer from Caldecott
Andrew Brown, a farmer from Caldecott

While trade minister Greg Hands said British farmers have nothing to fear from the deal, which the Government is hoping to secure in the next few weeks, Andrew, who is also a Rutland county councillor (Ind) has concerns.

He said: “If this rushed deal goes through it will be very hard to reverse and our food will change because global producers with lower standards of food production will be able to sell to us. It will open the door for similar deals with countries who use medicines and pesticides in their farming which are banned over here.”

As an example, he said cattle are fattened with hormones, and given antibiotics more frequently causing a resistance to them.

“For example, to maximise profits, cattle are fattened up with hormones often in huge feed lots where they’re fed antibiotics more often, which end up in us and we develop a resistance. The risks to health are immense, it’s terrifying, and a big betrayal.”

With an influx of cheaper food coming in, Andrew worries British farmers will struggle to compete while maintaining standards.

“British farming is largely family businesses and that will be swallowed up by this market for cheaper, worse food. Then there’ll be a moment where farmers here think ‘well, if they’re doing it, so will I’ because they have to survive,” he said.

“Farmers are also being encouraged to take large areas out of production for environmental reasons, but if that lost production has to be made up by farmers elsewhere in the world where they are not using environmentally sound techniques then it is just exporting our environmental issues elsewhere”.

“The vast majority of people are against lowering food standards but the government is trying to push this through anyway because it is so desperate to do a deal.”

The trade minister gave the House of Commons a “cast-iron guarantee” that food standards would not be affected and suggested that farmers should be “positive, not fearful”.

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