South West agriculture faces devastation if new trade deal is agreed

South West MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has pointed to a new German study as further evidence that the planned TTIP trade deal between the EU and US could devastate agriculture in the South West.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) aims at harmonising agricultural and food standards between the two trading blocs. However, the new study indicates that this would result in the ‘downfall of parts of the agricultural sector’ in Europe and will have particularly devastating impacts on strong agricultural regions such as the South West.   

The study by a German association representing small business, looked in particular at the impacts on the cereals, meat and milk sectors. It concludes that TTIP will place the US in a competitive advantage due to economies of scale and the nation’s lower consumer and production standards.

The report also points to examples such as GMOs and growth hormones in which harmonisation would leave European farmers at a disadvantage. In Europe, all food that contains more than 0.9% GMO content must be labelled, whereas in the USA no such requirement exists. To compete, European farmers could be forced to feed their livestock GMO products as GM fed livestock are not governed by the same labelling requirement.

An EU ban on growth hormones currently prevents the sale of the majority of US meat in Europe. However, the US meat industry is keen to see this barrier removed as part of the TTIP negotiations, which could seriously threaten small scale and conventional farming. 

Molly, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, said:

This is scientific evidence that TTIP is a corporate charter primarily aimed at benefitting large US agri-business and threatens rural livelihoods and communities. It also poses a threat to our precious countryside which depends on a successful farming sector.

“As an MEP for the region, it is my job to defend the highest standards of agriculture in terms of safety and human and animal health and welfare. These standards, together with thousands of jobs, are in jeopardy due to a push for harmonisation. I will continue to campaign for this dodgy trade deal to be stopped so as to safeguard our rural jobs and hard-fought-for regulations.”