The Alliance For Democracy and Freedom Party Issue Facts and Reasons For Caution On The Australia Trade Deal And Its Impact On British Agriculture.
This is a sizeable movement and there is time yet to keep the pressure on. We believe this could be a bad deal for UK agriculture going forward. There is too much uncertainty left in this open plan dealing free trade style with a country thirty two times the size of Britain. We do not know how Australia is going to respond and we don’t know what the flow of Australian goods into the UK is going to be like so basically the risk factors are not accounted for. The situation is currently being left wide open for shrewd opportunity to be taken by the Australian side.
If we just take a look next door at the New Zealand trade deal, New Zealand is already on good tariffs for sheep meat but now beef and dairy are being added. What additional support policies is the UK government going to add to protect UK farmers? We haven’t seen any yet going forward.
At the moment Australia exports in big quantity to Asia and China but that could all change and Australian farmers have a very good forecast indeed. Why did the Australian government push so hard to secure large volumes of farm product if there isn’t an intention of exporting into the UK? Australia is one of the biggest agricultural traders in the world.
Over the past two years UK farming has made huge progress. Retail is now very pro-British and we have never known such enthusiasm and loyalty for Buy British for a very long time. That we do know.
We don’t need a huge volume of top end cuts from Australia to completely disrupt our market. There is one situation of imports coming in at the lower end of the market and another where imports take the top spot. Australia’s massive production lines and easier regulations mean that UK farers can still be undercut on price even after produce has been exported around the globe.
The main reason the Australian Trade Deal could be bad for British farmers is the potential volumes of tariff free imports which will be allowed in. If British farmers are going to be undermined then we and the farming lobbying groups cannot support this deal. We have heard more about the deal from the Australian government than our own. What does that tell you?
What we do know is that despite press releases the deal is not formally done yet into anything legally binding. It is to be expected that ratification will take place in Autumn.
The main issues on products are within the beef, lamb, sugar and dairy sectors. Australian sheep meat tariff free imports for example starts at twenty five thousand tonnes and increases to seventy five thousand after ten years on to one hundred and twenty five thousand tonnes to year 15. After 15 years there is no quota protection whatsoever. The volumes are far too large as it stands.
We are still in a better position than when we were in the EU, that needs to be stated but we must hold the government to account and take note of empty promises made. 70 % of the UK is a farmed landscape and we should be increasing our domestic market hold and self-sufficiency. Mass imports could ruin this opportunity for UK farming to return.
At the moment UK farming is having to justify its existence in its own country and we believe this is wrong. The UK is an average low spender on food already and we certainly do not want a race to the bottom on prices with our high production costs. We have the best in the world produce and this must be reflected in value.
In terms of food standards, imports with lower welfare and environmental standards can enter the UK so long as the food safety standards are high. We are now going to need clear transparency from our Red Tractor Scheme so that absolutely no imported produce can be placed under the Union Flag logo.
The risk is high and there is doubt on whether the government genuinely care about UK farmers. It will take many people and lobbying groups and a new opposition to come together to protect our UK farmers because going forward it appears to us that our markets are being exposed for world opportunity and little domestic gain.
The Alliance for Democracy and Freedom is committed to protecting the interests of the British people and the hardworking UK farmers who will ensure the core of our food security.