Sheffield MP and Shadow Minister Olivia Blake warns of a double threat of a Free Trade Deal with Australia

Olivia Blake has today warned about the threat of a new zero tariff trade deal with Australia, which could increase carbon emissions from food imports and put many small family farms out of business.

By diana stannard
Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:41 pm

The Government is set to open the door to a zero-tariff trade deal with Australia, that would cause a sharp rise in cheaply imported beef, lamb and sugar.

There are worries that because of the UK's high food and animal welfare standards, small family farms in Britain will be unable to compete with the mass-production Australian agricultural companies using methods that would be illegal for British farmers to use.

Australia is the world’s second biggest exporter of beef in the world. The scale of its export operation alone is more than double the total output of the UK’s beef sector. The average size of a beef cattle herd in England is 27 animals.

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Most Australian beef farms have capacity for over 10,000 cows. These vast factories, not constrained by a fraction of the UK’s animal welfare laws, risk pushing our small family farms out of business. The National Farmers' Union has warned it will "cause the demise of many, many beef and sheep farms throughout the UK."

Experts have also called into question the carbon cost of importing food from thousands of miles away, rather than focussing on domestic growth.

Olivia Blake MP for Sheffield Hallam and Shadow Minister for Nature, Water and Flooding, said:

“To tackle the climate and ecological emergency we need a sustainable food system, which is based, wherever possible, on localised, green food production. Instead the Government’s proposed trade deal will massively increase the carbon footprint of the food we eat, flying imports halfway across the world and adding tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere. We should be working to reduce the carbon footprint of our food and support Yorkshire’s local, sustainable farmers - like Hallam business Our Cow Molly. The Government’s zero-tariff trade deal would do the exact opposite.”

Earlier this year Olivia Blake held an Assembly, attended by 50 plus Hallam residents, to discuss food security and the climate crisis.

Luke Pollard, Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, said: "The Tories have betrayed our local fishing industry and now it looks like they might do the same to British farmers as well. Labour backs our farmers and cannot support any trade deal that sees our farmers undercut by food that would be illegal for our farmers to grow here due to lower animal welfare and environmental standards.”