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Americans, agriculture and the problem with trade deals

Readers' letters | Published:

The main objective of Brexit has been to break free of restrictive legislation with a “bonfire of red tape”.

We would then be free to enter into trade deals under the assumption that these would be beneficial to ourselves and the other party. It has never been entirely clear what these trade deals would consist of and there is no guarantee that they would prove to be beneficial to us. Many of these deals have proved disastrous to one or both parties in the past.

One area of vital importance to Shropshire is agriculture and this would form a key part of any deal with the US. There are areas of American agriculture that would prove difficult in any such deal. The Americans favour large scale intensive operations and the search to increase profitability goes beyond simply having a bigger operation.

They have CAFOs, concentrated feedlot operations of up to 36,000 animals in one intensive operation. The UK’s largest CAFO has only 3,000 animals.

The US animals are fed hormones to improve milk yield or bulk up muscles in beef. This has the effect of reducing the quality of the product in terms of nutrition. The intensive conditions also require antibiotics which also create problems.

At the moment American producers are lobbying Trump to come up with a trade deal which would allow them to introduce such product to the UK market obviously at a price far below what UK farmers can produce at. At the same time government is telling our farmers to introduce more humane methods of farming in order to qualify for subsidy.

Quite how the two areas are linked I do not know? Or is just a case of dropping subsidies under cover of animal welfare? How would government deal with a flood of American product that is demonstrably substandard to a degree where some suspect that some drugs could cause cancer in the animals?

Is it one rule for them and a different one for use? I think it might be.

This is my problem with trade deals. They may look alright at first but delve a bit deeper and a different picture emerges.

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This will always be the case. The other party wants to make more and will push for this as an outcome.

Certain areas will suffer more than others under different Brexit regimes and it is estimated that the West Midlands and North East will suffer most. Oddly the two areas with the highest percentage of votes in favour of Brexit.

Another area that the Americans feel is ripe for picking, (no pun intended), is our health service. American health providers would love to get their hands on that because as much as we value the NHS it is horribly inefficient.

The one area we excel in is financial services which we are in the process of giving away to whichever EU country draws the raffle ticket. Goldman Sachs have announced that they may being selling their billion pound London headquarters and moving on!

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How is Mrs May going to balance the books? Only two ways; increase interest rates and devalue the currency but that’s not enough.

I could go on but it is too depressing. It looks like our negotiation skills are zero and the Germans are far from calling a day on the beatings that May, Gove and Johnson are taking in proceedings. Wait until they start making our laws for us which of course will not be revocable. As someone has just said we will “cease to be rule makers and become rule takers”.

In the wings waits Jezzer with some lovely ideas about stripping profits away from the robber baron financial sector. You would have to try hard to make a bigger mess of things if you tried.

Just get out of it Mrs May. You have little time left to make your mark as a Prime Minister of note. Go with dignity.

Robin Lloyd, Ellesmere

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