THE MP for North Shropshire has hit back at claims that he against protecting British farmers.

Owen Paterson's comments come after the Agriculture Bill 2019-21 was discussed in Parliament on Wednesday, after Helen Morgan, the North Shropshire Liberal Democrat candidate in 2019, accused him of undermining British farming.

The Bill seeks to authorise expenditure for certain agricultural and other purposes post leaving the EU and in Mr Paterson's view, free the UK from the constraints of the common agricultural policy.

At the reading Simon Hoare MP put forward an amendment to the Bill, which sought to amend various clauses based around international trade agreements, the duty to promote exports, the application of pesticides and the labelling of animal products.

While supporting the Bill itself, Mr Paterson spoke out against these amendments, saying the UK already had high standards and that standards would not decrease post-Brexit.

"The new clauses are unenforceable," said Mr Paterson. "Let us take the great vexed issue of chlorinated chicken.

"People do not use very much chlorine – they use pathogen reduction treatments, which have been cleared by the US, the EU authorities and by Codex Alimentarius.

"When we look at the regulations, we see that stocking densities are similar to those that pertain in Europe. The outcomes on health grounds are better.

"Americans eat roughly twice as much chicken as Europeans, and their outcomes on campylobacter and salmonella are significantly better

"What would we do if this condition went through.

"It would completely block any hope of a US free trade deal, with catastrophic consequences for large parts of our economy."

But Mrs Morgan says that in failing to support the amendments, Mr Paterson is 'undermining' British farmers.

She said: "I'm so angry that our MP ignores the needs of the local economy.

"In voting against the amendment he has effectively told farmers 'we'll sell you out to get our US trade deal, complete with hormone-fed beef and chlorinated chicken'. It's outrageous.

"This amendment would have protected our farmers by preventing trade deals which allow the import of goods with lower production, animal welfare, environmental and labour standards."

Mr Paterson has rebuked Ms Morgan's claims, outlining his own personal background in farming and agriculture, as well as that of his constituency.

In response to Ms Morgan's comments, he said: "Farming will benefit from free trade, there are huge opportunities available.

"I'm pleased to say amendment was beaten by majority and that the Bill passed by a majority.

"My family background is in farming and my constituency is in farming so it is just insulting to say I'm against British farming.

"There is this idea that opening up the regulations is a bad thing, but it is really good for farming as an industry to have a free trade.

"There are brilliant opportunities in the future as long as farmers are free to do what they want once we escape from European regulations."