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Farmers stage Westminster tractor protest over threat to British food standards

FARMERS driving tractors staged a demonstration in Westminster today to press their demand for current food standards to be enshrined in law once Brexit takes full effect.

The protest, organised by campaign group Save British Farming, warned against“low welfare” products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef being imported from the United States.

Farmers assembled at New Covent Garden before heading for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster.

They also went to Parliament Square, where MPs were set to vote last night on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill proposed by the House of Lords. The vote was expected after the Morning Star’s press deadline.

Peers amended the legislation last month in a bid to block the import of food produced in countries with weaker animal welfare protection.

The government was expected to overturn the amendment in the Commons, after arguing that protections are already in place.

Labour called on ministers to put a “guarantee in law” that food standards will not be lowered as a result of trade deals being sought with countries such as the US and Australia.

Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said that it would be “absurd” if the Tory government voted against its own manifesto pledge to protect food standards.

He warned: “There’s still a serious threat that they will drop that promise to get the trade deals they’re so desperate to secure with Donald Trump and others.”

Unite national officer for agriculture Bev Clarkson backed the call for standards to be enshrined in law to protect them from being watered down.

She told the Star: “British farming has long been held up as the benchmark for global food and animal welfare standards.

“However, the suspicion remains that the government would be prepared to sacrifice these standards, built up over many decades, to achieve post-Brexit trade deals.”

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