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Livestock Bill is Admirable But Flawed, Says NFU

by 5m Editor
4 November 2010, at 9:08am

UK - Yesterday’s Sustainable Livestock Bill was admirable in intent - but it failed to take on board the work already being undertaken by the industry and cannot be supported by the NFU in its current form.

The Private Members’ Bill is sponsored by Robert Flello MP and requires the government to devise a strategy to ensure the sustainability of the livestock food industry.

However, NFU President Peter Kendall has said that while the organisation is firmly committed to working with politicians and other organisations, we cannot support this Bill in its current form. He said: “First and foremost, this Bill represents policy aspiration, not law.

“I believe the UK government, present or future, should be free to develop its policy on the sustainability of the food and farming sector, working in partnership with industry and other interested organisations, as it sees fit. While the aspirations of this Bill are admirable, they are unsuited to legislation.

“I remain convinced there are better ways of improving farming’s environmental impact, primarily by seeing through the voluntary and industry-led initiatives that are already underway rather than by adding further burdensome regulation.

“Under a variety of schemes, GHG emissions from the whole of the agricultural sector, including livestock, were reduced by more than 20 per cent between 1990 and 2008.

“We remain strongly opposed to measures that attempt to regulate the industry’s approach to this important issue. The Bill’s focus on a duty to ensure the sustainability of the livestock sector is impossible to define in a legally enforceable way, and there is no enforcement mechanism in any case.

“Furthermore, some provisions are of questionable legal status, for example a requirement to regulate the consumption of imports which potentially contravene world and EU trade rules. Such an unenforceable element would mean British famers are put at a competitive disadvantage and could see consumers buying imported produce that will not have met any of the criteria sought in this Bill.”

We’ve also accused some organisation of making disingenuous claims that the Bill will achieve things that are completely absent from its provisions.

These include a ban on large dairies, an enforced reduction in meat and dairy in people’s diets, and the erection of trade barriers on imported animal feed.

“Whatever one’s personal opinions, it is insincere to make claims about the Bill in order to garner support for its passage – both amongst MPs and the general public – which are not supported by the published text. There must be a question as to whether these organisations are seeking to hijack the Bill for their own ends,” added Mr Kendall.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.