THERE is indeed good news within the new Agriculture Bill, as outlined by Rebecca Pow, in her recent Westminster Diary column (‘Garden town’, County Gazette, January 23).

The Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) will reward farmers for “public goods”, i.e. activities which bring environmental benefit, such as increasing wildlife habitat and improving soil health.

The mention of agro-ecology, whereby farmers produce food and at the same time improve environment, is particularly welcome.

However, the risk to UK farmers and consumers from the new trade deals post-Brexit could undermine all the positives in relation to farming and food standards.

Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, which “advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity”, has raised concerns about the Government’s trade negotiations with the USA.

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These concerns are that the US will railroad through acceptance of their food and husbandry standards in any future trade deal. This not only means chlorine washed chicken: conventional American livestock farmers typically use five times more antibiotics than in the UK and damaging agrichemicals such as neo-nicotinoids are widely used.

We could be looking at a future where those with sufficient wealth in the UK buy quality produce from local farmers’ markets and those who can’t, buy cheap imports that do not meet EU regulations in terms of pesticides and antibiotic use.

ELMS, if carefully crafted, could bring significant benefits at a time when environmental issues are paramount. But we must not allow trade deals to unfairly disadvantage our own farmers by allowing imports that do not meet acceptable standards.