THE National Sheep Association (NSA) warns failure to scrutinise the Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could  damage the UK sheep industry.

NSA believes there is still time for a supportive government to consider the safeguards necessary and ensure adequate measures in the FTA to avoid market disruption and the undermining of all our aspirations for high standards for animal health and welfare, and the farmed environment.

Following the agreement in principle (AIP), NSA urges ministers, before the AIP is converted into legal text, to heed the warnings of UK farmers and consumer groups, and to urgently give adequate time for the new Trade and Agriculture Commission to be established allow proper Parliamentary Scrutiny – and then to listen to the advice given.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “NSA warned from day one that the UK sheep sector could end up being the sacrificial lamb for the benefit of other industries in a trade deal and Ministers could still step in to ensure this doesn’t happen.

“UK sheep farmers also need assurances that in case of market disruption quotas could be halted.”