SBF responds to National Food Strategy launch

Response to National Food Strategy

Responding to the launch of the National Food Strategy, Liz Webster, Chair of Save British Farming (SBF) said:


“As the Beeching Report laid the ground for the destruction of our public funded railways, Henry Dimbleby has been tasked with writing a report which builds justification for the end of our public funded food system.

   What we already know from the Agriculture Act, which focuses on turning farmers into environmentalists, means that much of this report is no surprise. In truth, British farming is being shrunk to allow for more food imports as part of this government’s new trade strategy. Indeed, Liz Truss has packaged her efforts as a re-run of the Repeal of the Corn Laws. That this imported food is of lower quality and ensures significantly more climate and public health damage means that Henry Dimbleby has to had to find a way to justify the decimation of our high standard – and always improving – farming system in Britain.

   British farming is largely being scapegoated for the obesity crisis and damage to the environment and biodiversity, which is a totally false narrative. Since the last war, British farmers worked their socks off to bring back land into production to feed the nation and build our food security which was lost after the last free trade expedition ensured by the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

   The obesity crisis began when Britain, influenced by USA, rolled out the supermarket and fast food revolution. It is heavily processed foods which cause obesity, and it is reliance on fossil fuels and building infrastructure that damages biodiversity and the environment. This Government is pushing ahead with a build, build, build programme, and opening the floodgates to more processed low standard food, but is tasking our farming industry with the job of setting Britain up as a carbon sink to counter the damage of their new trade plans.

   Britain has the most beautiful countryside in the world and is largely the creation of our family farming system, with livestock grazing/fertilising fields surrounded by hedges. Much of this will disappear as people are falsely informed that meat is bad for health and the environment, while billionaires fire up rockets to travel in space for a jolly.“


The Big Lie

The Big Lie - or 'it's all about sovereignty, stupid!'

By Anna Damski

In the lead-up to Brexit, the Vote Leave campaign, and specifically George Eustice – now the DEFRA Minister – promised that farming would thrive if the UK left the EU.

In a new sovereign Britain no longer beholden to the EU, our UK standards, he promised, would be protected, there would be less red tape, and the government would not only take over subsidies, they would increase them.  He even produced leaflet about it.

Farmers now know their subsidies are to be phased out, and rather than less red tape, there’s now more than ever.  So what about those standards?

The 2019 Tory manifesto promised: “In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”

Yet when the government published the Agriculture Bill in the spring of 2020, those standards were nowhere to be seen.  Neither were they in the new Trade Bill. 

Not a single, solitary mention.

Despite persistent lobbying of parliamentarians by Save British Farming and other farming-related organisations, despite the Lords adding amendments to include them on several occasions during the passage of the Agriculture Bill, despite a million strong petition by the public who in polls were over 90% in favour of keeping current standards, the governement failed to add them to the Bill, promising they would personally safeguard them.

Now we are at crunch time.  Up to this point, the government has so far merely rolled over deals we previously had via the EU.  So when it came to Australia – our first proper deal negotiated from scratch – there was a chance to show the world that sovereign Britain was a force to be reckoned with. 

The government is not just desperate to show something positive has come out of Brexit after five solid months of bad Brexit news, it wants to get the deal done and dusted before the June G7 Economic Summit the UK is hosting this year.

The barrier to getting it done quickly is – you’ve guessed it – standards.  Australia, like the US, is able to keep the price of meat low by intensive farming and the use of hormones.  Animal welfare is also a serious issue, with a high reliance on antibiotics to combat the disease associated with overcrowding at a time when UK farmers have worked incredibly hard to slash the use of antibiotics in food production.

Even though the government promised no food will be imported that doesn’t meet our standards, Boris Johnson, by all accounts, has decided that they should not be a barrier when it comes to signing off on the deal. 

It’s possible he’s been advised that when push comes to shove, we don’t have the heft of the EU to prevent it.  Ask Mexico when they tried to fend off the US.  If we say no, Australia, together with the US and Brazil and every other country that wants to import food to the UK, will take us to the cleaners at the World Trade Organisation, and the UK won’t stand a chance against their combined might.

It turns out that the promise of sovereignty was a big lie.  Apparently, bigger is better – and more powerful.  We left the EU to regain our sovereignty and now, ironically, we have less than whilst a fully paid-up member.

The victim of this sorry saga will be the UK’s farming industry which, unable to compete with low quality, low welfare produce, will be decimated. 

Liz Truss, who negotiated the Australia deal, has generously offered some help.  By phasing the deal in over 10-15 years it will, she says, “ease the pain” for farmers set to lose their livelihoods.  I’m sure they’re very grateful.


Save British Farming Reboot

After 7 months in covid hybernation, SBF is back!

As the second covid wave hit the UK last Autumn, Save British Farming was forced to suspend campaign activities. 

We did everything we could to lobby for the inclusion of food, animal welfare and environmental standards in the Agriculture Bill, as promised in the Tory Party 2019 manifesto.  While we failed in that, the huge pushback from the public in a massive letter-writing campaign to MPs and a 1 million strong petition forced the government to put the Trade and Agriculture Commision on a permanent footing.

Now, as we approach the end of May, a new threat approaches us from down-under in the form of a comprehensive free trade agreement with Australia.  The government, in its haste to show something for its disastrous Brexit, is pushing to seal the deal before June’s G7 summit, taking place in Cornwall.  This arbitrary deadline has given the Australian government the upper hand and so it’s pushing for quota-free and tariff-free imports on meat.  If our government caves, as it’s looking likely it will, this will be the starting point of trade deals with NZ, Brazil, Argentina and the US.  All of these countries produce food to much lower standards than the UK and through their use of intensive farming practices, can produce meat at a much lower cost.  This means as cheap meat floods the UK, it will decimate farming which won’t be able to compete. 

Liz Truss, who’s doing the negotiating proposes the new deal is phased in over 15 years to “ease the pain” that will be inflicted on the agriculture sector.  Trade deals aren’t supposed to inflict pain.  Our governement is unique in the world for not protecting its own market.

Save British Farming is committed to doing all we can to prevent this travesty.  If the deal goes ahead, we will all be eating poorer quality food, and as farms go to the wall, our pastoral countryside will change forever.


Melton Mowbray Tractor Demo

Pie town Melton Mowbray gets our tractor treatment!

Tractor route around Melton Mowbray, meeting at the cattle market at 10:30am

Melton Mowbray, the Leicestershire market town famous for its pork pies and Stilton cheese is set to be the latest location of a SBF tractor demo.

We continue to protest the failure of the government to include food standards in the Agriculture Bill, which would ensure the country isn’t flooded with lower quality produce, which would undercut our farmers.

If you’re in the area, please join us.  Pedestrians will meet outside Ye Old Pork Pie Shoppe on Nottingham Street from 11:30am and will be given placards to hold.  Tractors will meet from 10:30am at the cattle market on Scalford Road.


Marlborough Demo

Marlborough Demo - Mama Knows Best!

Angry Wiltshire farmers headed to Marlborough to protest the government’s failure to include food standards in the Agriculture Bill.

Local MP, Danny Kruger, was one of a majority of Conservative MPs to vote against an amendment that would safeguard UK standards, enshrining them in primary legislation.  His mother, Great British Bake-Off’s Prue Leith, disagrees with him, arguing that we must keep our current high standards.  It’s reported she’s given up her Conservative Party membership in protest.

Our lead tractor had a poster of the pair, with the words “Mama Knows Best” emblazoned on it!

With thanks to Kaz for the ‘birds eye’ video and three photos kindly given to us by professional photographer Bob Naylor, WaterMarx Media.


Westminster Tractor Demo

Our Tractors Return to Westminster!

On October 12th Save British Farming organised our second Westminster Demo.  As tractors and other farm vehicles mustered at New Covent Garden, MPs in the Commons began a debate on Amendment 16 – whether to include standards in the new Agriculture Bill.  Our ‘tractorcade’ wended its way along the south embankment to Lambeth Bridge where it crossed and made its way to Smith’s Square, home to the government’s DEFRA offices.  The BBC and other press were waiting, along with some politicians including Luke Pollard – Labour’s shadow DEFRA minster, and Tim Farron who holds a similar position in the Lib Dems.

Labour Shadow DEFRA minister, Luke Pollard, with SBF volunteers, Anna & Emma

From there, they went back over Lambeth Bridge, crossed Westminster Bridge and made their way to Trafalgar Square, before passing Downing Street and entering Parliament Square for a few rotations.

After the demo, tractors were directed to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament where the press was waiting to interview those who took part. 

All in all, it was a great day, with a great publicity both on national news and in the national press the next day.

Unfortunately, the government whipped Conservative MPs to vote down the amendment, with only 14 rebelling.

The Lords will send another similar amendment back to the Commons, and we’ll be there when it arrives.


Swindon Tractor Demo

Our latest Tractor Demo got heads turning in Swindon!

Wiltshire farmers mustered at the Swindon County Ground ahead of a tractor demonstration around the Old Town.  Local farmers are angry at the government’s failure to include standards in the Agriculture Bill.

The ‘tractorcade’ circled the oldest part of the town several times, to the claps of supporters and bystanders. 

The route included passing local MP Robert Buckland’s office.  

Afterwards, everyone felt buoyed up by the experience, and they’re ready to repeat it if the Commons fails to vote through the Lords amendment safeguarding our standards.


Stokesley Tractor Demo

Stokesley Demo a Great Success!

On October 9th, Save British Farming organised another tractor demo in the northeast, this time in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.

We had great turnout, even bigger than Northallerton and far better than expected!🚜🚜🚜

Around 20 tractors, crop sprayers and pickups with trailers joined us.

One of our campaign team, Richard Sadler as there and says, “They drove up and down the High Street at 10 mph sounding their horns.  Bystanders burst into spontaneous applause – and clapped and cheered.  It’s very obvious that farmers have very strong support from the public – everyone values farming in Yorkshire and no one wants cheap, nasty imports like chlorinated chicken from US factory farms.”

One of the tractors made another stop at MP Rishi Sunak’s office, where farmer Graham Clarke delivered his SECOND letter to the Chancellor urging him to back Lords amendment to Agriculture Bill. Graham still hasn’t heard back after the first letter was delivered after the Northallerton demo on September 25th. 


MP Letter Rebuttals

MP Letter and Rebuttal

Liz Webster shares her MP’s response to our Save British Farming template letter on the Agriculture Bill, UK Farming and food standards. 

🚜 Have you sent one to your MP? 

🐄 Click here to use our customisable template. All you need is your postcode and our app will do the rest. We recommend you include a personal section at the start so it doesn’t get treated as a ‘form letter’.

Have they responded?  If yes, please send it to us – we’re looking at how honest they’re being and which ones are using a standardised response.


Good food standards = good health

Health professionals join call to keep current UK food standards

Health care professionals join Save British Farming to deliver a strong message to amend the Agriculture Bill to keep our current food standards.  Some of them tell us why.

It is crucial that we protect our food standards not just for ourselves but for future generations to come. We are seeing an exponential growth in chronic lifestyle diseases and nutrition is a fundamental pillar that we all need to look at improving if we want to lead healthier lives.

Good work and let me know if there’s anything else I can help out with!

~Chris George, GP

Lowering our food standards has the potential to have a negative effect on the health of everyone in the UK. We currently have some of the highest standards for agriculture in the world and the government are planning to lower these way beyond the acceptable levels that we’ve enjoyed for decades. We want to ensure that the government do not pass an agriculture will affect our health. Please write to your MP and encourage others to do the same to protect our food standards and our public health.

~Sophie Red, Consultant Dietitican

As a Registered Nutritionist working within the food industry for the past twenty years, I have become so proud of the high food and farming standards that we have in Britain. I have witnessed first hand some of the initiatives that have been worked on so tirelessly for years. To relax our principles now has the potential to have an incredibly negative impact on the health of our nation and we must ensure that our exceptional British food standards are protected by law.

~Charlotte Radcliffe, Consultant Registered Nutritionist

As a nursing student, we learn about the fundamentals of health, and how high quality nutrition is a key factor in ill-health prevention.
Health inequalities in Britain are evident between lower income and higher income families. The agriculture bill amendment will leave lower income families with no choice but to choose poor quality foods, further exacerbating the inequalities in health in our country. We are lucky to have our own British farms which provide us with local, seasonal, good quality food. This should be accessible to everyone, no matter your income.

.Local, seasonal, good quality produce is essential to the public’s and the planet’s health.

Good quality nutrition is a necessity, and shouldn’t be made a luxury.

Mary-Jo Whiteley, Student Nurse