British Labor leader Sir Keir Starner says the Conservative government has 'given up on farmers'. At the annual meeting of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Starner pledged that Labor would prioritize British farmers and improve trade relations with the EU.
He is not saying that the United Kingdom will return to the European Union under his leadership.
“We want to remove barriers for exporters, not create them. We want to protect, not dilute, the high British standards," Starner said at the NFU Congress. Starmer promised that Labor will ensure that a third of government-bought food is British and that 20% is highly sustainable.
Labor also says it will not tamper with criteria for producing healthy food and pledges to put 'green exports' high on its agenda if Labor wins the next general election.
According to recent opinion polls, the Conservative Party has lost the support of most British farmers. In December, support for the Tories among farmers fell to 42 percent. Two years ago it was still 57 percent, and three years ago it was 72 percent. It turned out that Brexit caused more problems than solutions, mainly due to the forced departure of foreign guest workers. Due to a shortage of driver and slaughterhouse staff, tens of thousands of pigs had to be culled in 2021.
NFU chair Minette Batters says Britain is threatened with a "disastrous" food scandal due to lax border controls on agricultural imports after the British exited the EU. “We see little to no controls on imports coming in from the EU,” she said.
“We are at the huge risk of African swine fever in Europe. Not investing in our biosecurity and to keep animal and plant health safe, I think is just a dereliction of duty,” said Batters.
The threat could become much worse under trade agreements with non-EU countries, she added. British environment minister Thérèse Coffey said last week she hoped to increase trade with the United States and import more of its "fantastic produce".
Coffey said science, innovation and technology would help British agriculture remain sustainable. Therefore, the current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has established a new government department to focus on scientific innovation and technology.