St Albans MP Anne Main discusses Brexit farming opportunities in Westminster

St Albans MP Anne Main in the House of Commons.

St Albans MP Anne Main in the House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

Farmers will be at the forefront of the opportunities provided by Brexit, St Albans MP Anne Main told a Westminster Hall debate last week.

Mrs Main said the UK could take control of a variety of issues, such as animal welfare, labelling, and food production, once Article 50 was triggered and Britain left the EU,

There could be “stronger regulation” so that UK farmers would not be disadvantaged by those “operating at standards we would not allow in our country”, she claimed.

She said: “Brexit is a great opportunity for the UK to enforce more transparency for farm-to-fork traceability to enable British consumers to make more informed choices about what they are buying and what life an animal has had in the production of food.

“We should therefore focus on a thriving trade for our farmers, because they operate to some of the highest standards.”

Farmers in Harpenden have said they agree in principle that there are opportunities but it will not definitely be a good thing unless trade deals are handled properly - with the EU, Australasia, and America.

Ian Pigott, 47, managing director of Thrales End Farm in Harpenden, and chairman of Farming and Countryside Education, said: “It concerns me that agricultural produce may be used as a pawn in negotiations to open up trade for other sectors.

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“Food produced to lower standards than those expected on British farms should not be allowed into the UK.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for farmers post-Brexit, but I would plead with our government to make sure that all future farm policies account for the opinions of all for the benefit of the British public.”

He stressed that the opinions taken into account must be robustly based in evidence.

St Albans Senior Young Farmers Club chairman, Charles Hunter, 19, agreed: “One of the main things will be the trade deals we can get, making sure we are not disadvantaged by being outside of Europe.

“So we must be able to sell our produce competitively and on an open market with other countries.”

He used the example of machinery imports – Charles does not want to be penalised, or pay excess tariffs, for buying equipment abroad.

On June 23 Britain as a whole divisively voted to leave the EU, but St Albans as an individual district voted remain – 62.7 per cent in to 37.3 per cent out.