By Debbie James

Pledges on climate and the environment were made at the recent G7 summit.

Just hours later and the UK government signed a trade deal with a country more than 9,000 air miles away. I challenge any politician to defend the paradox in that.

Can importing food from Australia be good for the environment?

It is indeed true that we are entering a very different world post-Covid and we will all need to adapt to some degree, including farmers.

But can it really be an environmentally sound move to import food from the other side of the world when it can be produced here?

The government has argued that opportunities to strike its own trade deals is a major benefit of leaving the EU.

But the Australia trade deal comes at a huge environmental cost, adding thousands of food miles to a product that is readily available here and can be sourced locally.

UK livestock is reared to the highest animal welfare and production standards, in a country with a climate made for growing grass.

A free trade deal sets a worrying precedent for undercutting domestic food production through future deals with other major world players including the US.

There is also the danger that in times of shortage global suppliers will be more interested in meeting the needs of their bigger and closer markets.

If our agriculture is run down over the coming years and we are hit by a similar short-term situation like the Suez Canal blockage or another pandemic, then we could find ourselves in trouble.

Australian farmers can ship goods literally halfway around the planet and still manage to undercut UK producers because their practices are not regulated in the same way.

It is utter hypocrisy for the government to keep raising the animal health and welfare bar for UK farmers and yet allow imports from countries that don’t share those values.

The family farm, the backbone of Pembrokeshire’s farming industry, deserves more consideration when trade deals are devised.