Ahead of an appearance before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee by Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom, Molly has criticised as ‘vacuous’ comments she has made about the future of food and farming. Andrea Leadsom has said that she will be ‘banging the drum’ for British agriculture and working towards achieving the best deal possible for the British food and farming sectors as the UK prepares to leave the EU. Molly Scott Cato, who sits on the European Parliament’s agricultural committee, said:
“This government needs to do more than bang a drum, it needs to bang a few heads together and come up with some proper plans. Ms Leadsom is dismissive of farmers concerns about access to the single market, responding with the vacuous refrain that the government will work for the best deal possible. Frankly, Ms Leadsom is all over the place, suggesting exporting naan bread to India and pork to China while ignoring the very real concerns of many farmers and food producers who want to have continued assured access to the European single market.
“It is interesting to hear the Defra secretary exalting the Cornish pasty. I wonder if she is aware that the CETA trade deal being negotiated between Canada and the EU, which her government are championing despite wide spread public opposition, threatens such regional specialities. While France and Italy have negotiated exemptions to protect many of their unique products the UK has not, so we could see cheap imported Cornish Pasties from Ontario.
“These are all worrying signs that the government doesn’t understand the needs of our food producers or the environment in which they operate. What we need to hear from our government is how they will use the opportunities offered by leaving the EU to shape a sustainable farming future; one that prioritises our many small scale farmers over large agri-business and places biodiversity, soil protection and combatting climate change at its heart.”