TWO of the county's MPs are fighting to protect British food and farming standards.

Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border is concerned about the Government's lack of scrutiny in international trade deals.

While Tim Farron, South Lakes MP, has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to protect UK food and farming standards in future trade deals.

It comes as the Government are said to be on the brink of agreeing a controversial trade deal with New Zealand, with fears that it could lead to local farmers being unable to compete with a flood of cheap imports.

Cross-party MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee have again written to the International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss MP, reiterating their concerns that the Government is showing a lack of urgency in creating a new Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC).

Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border and Member of the EFRA Committee said, “Our cross party EFRA Committee has once again had to write to the Trade Secretary about our concerns about the lack of scrutiny in these international trade deals. Our farmers and producers are getting increasingly concerned that they will be undercut by cheap imports. I will continue to stand up for our Cumbrian and UK farmers on this. It is so important that the Trade and Agriculture Commission is set up immediately and that we can properly scrutinise these trade deals.”

Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “These delays- both in responding to the original TAC's recommendations, and in establishing its replacement, are unacceptable. The Government has repeated its ambition that the TAC will advise on future strategy. It is difficult to see how this can happen when negotiations are ongoing and the TAC does not exist.

"By dragging its heels in responding to the conclusions of the former Trade and Agriculture Commission's report, and failing to appoint the membership of the new body, the Government is effectively running the clock down on stakeholders' input into future trade deals. There is an increasing risk that the Government’s continued inaction in this regard could be read as indifference to British stakeholder."

On Back British Farming Day, Mr Farron tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to protect UK food and farming standards in future trade deals.

The NFU’s president Minette Batters has warned of a “very real risk” that if the UK government gets the trade negotiations wrong, British farming will suffer “irreversible damage”.

Meanwhile the RSPCA say that a lack of transparency about the trade deal talks had set 'alarm bells' about animal welfare protections in the UK.

Mr Farron said: “Our farmers do such vital work in feeding us and looking after our stunning landscape and environment. But they are being sold down the river by this Conservative Government who are cutting their funding and undermining their high animal welfare and environmental standards in trade deals.

Our farmers deserve better than just warm words from the Government – they need to see real action to protect their livelihoods.”

Mrs Batters argued that over the past few years, not enough importance had been placed on Britain’s food production.“This has been all too clear as the country has watched its self-sufficiency drop from as high as 78 per cent in the mid-80s to its current level of just 60 per cent. As an island nation which is very well suited for quality food production, it would be a mistake to let that happen again and become even more reliant on the rest of the world to feed us.”

The EFRA Committee is calling on the International Trade department to respond to its concerns by September 21 .