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MP urges minister to give watchdog more teeth to protect farmers in a no deal Brexit

July 17, 2019 2:31 PM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has urged the Government to increase the powers of a watchdog which monitors how supermarkets treat farmers, in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament yesterday, Tim said: "The export tariffs for UK farmers, including Cumbrian hill farmers, into the single market worry me the most.

"Would the Minister consider the potential for increasing the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator, so that it can prevent supermarkets from taking advantage of the loss of export markets by paying our farmers a pittance after 31 October, should we have no deal?"

In response, the Agriculture minister, Robert Goodwill said that the sheep meat market was his "single biggest concern about a no-deal Brexit" and that leaving on WTO rules would put "tremendous pressure on the market".

However, the minister failed to commit to taking any action at all to protect Cumbria's farmers from this pressure.

Speaking afterwards, Tim said: "The Groceries Code Adjudicator has a vital role in protecting small farmers against the might of large supermarkets.

"But it needs to be given much greater powers so that it can properly protect Cumbrian farmers from supermarkets who will think they have farmers over a barrel in the event of a no deal Brexit."