Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan spoke out about the potential impact of tariff-free trade deals with countries like Australia on Scotland’s crofters and farmers in a speech to the Scottish Parliament last night. 

The UK Government has offered trade deal terms to Australia which would see Australian farmers granted tariff-free access to UK markets, making it easier for them to export products like lamb, pork and beef. The National Farmers Union Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Federation have both hit out at the proposed trade deal.

The islands MSP voiced concerns about the lack of safeguards for domestic agriculture and the prospect of domestic producers being crowded-out by cheaper and lower-quality food imports.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“While we all want to pursue good trading relationships between the UK and nations such as Australia, there are serious concerns which need to be addressed about the impact on Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

“Are we really saying that countries in Europe which have broadly similar standards on animal welfare, the use of hormones, and on environmental impacts should pay tariffs, while countries which may be unconstrained by any of these factors should have tariff-free access to our supermarkets?

“How can agriculture in Scotland and the UK be competitive on price in such a situation without severely compromising all these standards? We may begin with Australia, but what do we do if such a deal is also reached with major food producers like Brazil, whose environmental and other standards are so unlike ours as to raise even bigger concerns.

“This could have a catastrophic impact on crofting and farming communities. However, it seems the UK Government is heedless of the damage these deals may do as it rushes headlong into any trade deals with anyone in its frantic efforts to pick up the pieces from a Brexit disaster of its own making.

“This serves to underline why such huge decisions on Scottish agriculture should be in Scotland’s hands rather than Whitehall’s.

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