A CUMBRIAN farmer and a politician are among those campaigning for measures to prevent the market being flooded with cheap imported food produced to much lower standards.

Richard Pedley, who farms in partnership with his parents in south-east Cumbria, has been outspoken in his concern for his fellow hill farmers' livelihoods if food is imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here.

Richard, who breeds sheep on 1,200 acres of rented land, at Ellerbeck, Barbon, said: “British grown produce is farmed to the highest standards in the world. The food is safe, it’s traceable, it’s affordable and more importantly it’s sustainably grown with a very low carbon footprint, what more do you want?”

Mr Pedley, who sits on the National Farmers Union (NFU) Uplands Forum, a lobbying group for hill livestock farming, thinks neither the subsidy system nor his business should be radically altered.

Campaigners who fear American chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef could be sold in British shops are pushing for changes to the Agriculture Bill currently going through parliament.

Last month, MPs voted against an amendment that would have compelled ministers to apply current UK food and farming standards to future deals on international trade.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has written to Defra secretary George Eustice calling for a Food Standards Commission to be set up to prevent Cumbrian farmers from being undercut in future trade deals. Last week he met with representatives from the NFU, which currently has a petition that is expected to reach one million signatures today calling on the Government to put into law rules that would prevent food produced to a lower standard being imported to UK.

Mr Farron signed and voted for an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to protect UK food standards during its third reading, but it was voted down by Conservative MPs.

He said: “The UK has the highest animal welfare standards, food safety standards and environmental protections in the world. But there is a huge danger that the Government will sacrifice these high standards in its desperation to sign a trade deal with the USA.That’s why we need a Food Standards Commission with the powers to protect our local farmers and the high standards they are rightly proud to uphold in any future trade negotiation.”

The Agriculture Bill is looking to replace the EU subsidy system based on the size of each farm with one that promotes food production at the same time as requiring farmers to manage their land for the public good.