SNP MEP Alyn Smith, Member of the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, called for the complete exemption of all agricultural products from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
TTIP, the proposed trade treaty between the US and the EU, aims to harmonise regulations between the two areas but the vast differences in standards between these means the risks to farmers and consumers are too high.
Alyn put forward an amendment to the Agriculture Committee opinion calling for an exemption which was unfortunately not adopted by the committee. Although some of the content of the final opinion is welcome more should have been done.
“One potential goal of TTIP is to eliminate the remaining tariffs in the trade of goods between the EU and the US. These tariffs exists to protect Scottish farmers and encourage the development of short supply chains.
“Only though exempting all agricultural products from TTIP could we guarantee that Scottish farmers will be able to continue to produce high quality produce.
“There are certain agricultural products of importance to Scotland, such as beef and lamb, where unlike most other products the tariff rate is still substantial. A study commissioned for the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee showed that total free trade would lead to intensification of production in regions where costs are cheap, and abandonment of production in more marginal areas such as mountain regions.
“Through engaging with TTIP the committees are helping to shape the future directions of the negotiations. It is only by engaging with the Commission that positive steps can be made.
“Although I welcome that the report has demanded that EU standards are maintained, I feel more assurances were needed before I could support it. In particular I feel stronger safeguards should be demanded to control the use of genetically modified organisms, and to protect the standards of animal welfare we currently have in the EU.
“We are making progress and gradually improving TTIP, it is a slow process but it is important to keep applying pressure wherever possible. Scotland’s farmers and consumers must be protected from any adverse consequences from TTIP and I will not support any treaty which is not in their interests.”