I should start by saying, I am not normally a person who publicly engages in “political” conversations.
However, when things are happening that could have such a detrimental impact on the farming industry, there is no time more important for our voices to be heard.
The proposed amendment to Agricultural Bill (to protect our food and farming standards) was heard and defeated by the Commons last week, which was a major blow to the industry.
Thankfully, this week, the Lords have voted to rework the bill, so it won’t just sail through, but will have to be amended and debated again and there is a hope that some common sense will prevail.
I always like to believe in the power of democracy.
At the end of the day, we supposedly democratically voted individuals in to represent our views.
We voted on the things that they told us they stood for. However, what is apparent is that the majority of our MPs are not following the views of the people, but are voting in line with the guidance of the party.
My messages from social media this week have been full of people frustrated by the fact that their MP voted to defeat the Agricultural Bill.
I understand that it isn’t easy for MPs to go against how the party directs them to vote, however, we need MPs who are brave enough to stand up and represent the views of the people who voted them in.
If they merely follow the party line, then surely we have lost the power of democracy and some may even say there is an element of dictatorship at play.
A lot of people I have spoken to aren’t aware of the impact of the Agricultural Bill, and I tend to hear the same lines of ‘We just won’t buy anything other than British’.
Unfortunately, it really isn’t as simple as that.
I love that this debate has opened people’s eyes wider to buying British, but in the cold light of day, that option is only available for a tiny proportion of the food we consume.
We won’t have any say in whether the local takeaway is opting to use chlorinated chicken, or how the beef that goes into our ready meals was farmed, nor will we know the origin of the food we are served in pubs or restaurants.
We will be consuming substandard food without even knowing it.
As a country, we shouldn’t be making trade deals with any country which does not follow the same welfare standards as the UK.
This is an ethical issue that we cannot shy away from.
We have a moral obligation to ensure that any produce that we bring into this country meets the required standards, from both a welfare and food production view and this should not be optional.
If we want to protect the integrity of the food that we produce and that reaches our plates, then we have to find our voices, because it has never been more clear that the majority of those who should represent us are turning their backs on what really matters to us as people.
It’s not OK to assume it will all be OK and it is also not OK to let other people fight our corner while sitting back and watching.
We need to speak up for ourselves, our children and even our older generation.
We have to stand for what is right and not accept second rate standards as part of a trade deal.
We produce the best here in the UK, because our people deserve the best and we shouldn’t compromise on that.
We have a hill to climb to protect our industry, but there is also light in what feels quite a dark political place and I would like to extend my appreciation and pay my respect to our local MPs, especially Dr Neil Hudson, who has been brave enough to stand up and fight for what is right and has put the peoples voice over the party’s directive.
This is not an easy thing to do and I’m sure I speak for many other farmers and rural communities when I say thank you to Neil for putting his head above the parapet and for continuing to actively work to make positive and constructive suggestions for the amendment going to vote next.
Politics needs more people like this and, in the meantime, let’s make sure we are supporting these individuals and standing our ground for British agriculture as best we can.
The fight is still on and we aren’t giving up yet.