Farming now and following Brexit should be economically viable, environmentally sustainable and should lead the world in standards in animal welfare and food quality. I stood on a General Election manifesto which pledged to promote cruelty-free animal husbandry and to consult on ways to ensure agreed standards are better enforced. For instance, animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to where they are reared and international trade should be in meat rather than live animals. The current government has committed to examine the future of live animal exports and I will await any proposals that it brings forward on this issue.
The government says that it is working on plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in farming. Antibiotics should not be used in place of high quality farm management and husbandry systems and the government needs to establish firm reduction targets, as well as imposing a ban on certain classes of antibiotics in certain species, such as fluoroquinolones in poultry.
We must prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries. We cannot allow Brexit to be used as an excuse for food standards to be reduced or to allow cheap and inferior produce to flood the UK market. Public money used to support farming should promote sustainable practices so that the industry can thrive and succeed while benefitting local communities.
I will continue to call for action to promote a humane and sustainable British farming system and for our existing environmental and animal welfare standards to be retained and strengthened following the Brexit negotiations.