Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson Robin Swann MLA has warned that the USA is becoming an increasingly disturbing and vocal threat to the future of local farms.
He was commenting after the head of the American Farm Bureau – the US’s national voice of agriculture – this week warned that the UK must first accept US food standards as part of any future wider trade deal with them.
UUP Leader Robin Swann said:
“The comments from Zippy Duvall should not go unheeded. He is a man that Donald Trump in January this year described as a dear friend, and who the President obviously considers as an influential and supportive industry leader.
“Therefore his demand that the UK must accept US food standards as part of any future trade deal is a serious and menacing assertion.
“Last year it was revealed that American agriculture interest groups had flooded the US government’s trade agency with demands trying to pressure the UK into cutting food standards if we go to them seeking a deal after Brexit.
“Now with this these latest comments from the American Farm Bureau I am fearful that it is only a matter of time before the US starts laying down red lines.
“UK farmers and processors should be in no doubt – the American food industry is ruthless. It also has deep personal and financial links with the nation’s political establishment so when it speaks it can be sure the White House listens.
“By wanting to weaken our existing standards, the US wants the ban on the use of growth hormones in imported beef to be lifted, genetically modified potatoes permitted to be shipped across the Atlantic and the local market to flung wide open to be flooded with chlorinated chicken.
“In his recent intervention Zippy Duvall has really honed in on British concerns with their use of chlorine in washing poultry and is adamant that it’s safe. Whilst that may be true he’s mistaken if he thinks that that is our only point of concern.
“As I’ve said before - whilst our poultry farmers have become accomplished at eliminating bacteria from every stage in the chain, this contrasts to the American’s who seem to tolerate dirty meat until the very end, where it then bleaches everything in a chlorine wash. I know which chicken I’d rather eat.
“Despite the attitude of America I actually see the quality, traceability and overall standard of UK produce to be one of our greatest assets, so I hope the UK Government has the nerve to stand up to the US on this point. If it doesn’t it will seriously undermine the viability of local family farms”