Opposition among UK farmers is growing towards a trade deal close to being concluded with Australia. They say there are no meaningful safeguards in place to stop farmers being undercut by cheap imports. However, some, including farmers in Australia, believe it’s an opportunity for positive change.
David Barton is a beef farmer in the Cotswolds. His 200 cattle are outdoors for most of the year, grazing some of the most beautiful hillsides in England. He moves them from field to field in a way that helps to lock up carbon from the atmosphere – assisting the fight against climate change. This practice also attracts a variety of different species to the area – a concept known as biodiversity.
Normally amiable and carefully-spoken, he struggled to keep his tone even as he explained how furious he was with the government’s handling of negotiations over a trade deal with Australia. He said ministers had been “dishonest”.
“We aren’t afraid of a Free Trade Deal, but we’ve been given absolutely no assurances about what standards will be upheld,” he says.