WE are local food producers, farmers, chefs, parents and community leaders. We are proud of the food we produce and we work hard to maintain high standards for food safety, animal welfare and to protect our beautiful countryside.

But we and the community are very worried. There’s a risk that trade deals being struck by the Government right now could undercut our farmers, put low quality food on our shelves, and pollute our local environment.

In a recent poll of County Durham residents, 66 per cent had serious concerns over the potential increase in US-style mega farms as a consequence of new deals. More than 80 per cent of residents surveyed did not want to buy cheaper beef and vegetables if it meant they had been treated with hormones and currently banned pesticides, both of which could become reality if we do not hold firm on our food and farming standards.

For us, such deals could pose a direct threat to our livelihoods, our communities and that of others in the food industry in County Durham.

We want to maintain high standards and continue to supply high quality food to our local and national community. We don’t want animals crammed into giant sheds, meat treated with hormones and excessive antibiotics, or fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticides that are currently banned in Britain.

That’s why we have joined the campaign #SaveOurStandards.

We call on our local MPs to support local businesses and voice our concerns in Parliament and to the Prime Minister. We urge them, on behalf of their constituents, to ensure that our national food standards are protected in law. We ask them to support our call to ensure trade deals benefit the local area over large US interests and do not undermine these standards or allow imports which could damage the health of our community or our precious local countryside.

Christian Burns – The Tavern Group; Paula Nelson – Shildon Alive; Laura Brenchley – Bishop Auckland artist; Lucinda Bird – beef and wheat farmer east Durham; Nikita Garner – smallholder and beekeeper, Castle Eden; Caroline Bell and Graham Tweddle – Acorn Organic Dairy, Darlington; Chris Jewitt – Food and Drink North East; Alison Raper – Teesdale Cheese Makers; Daniel McColl – McColl’s Brewery, Evenwood; Serap Kirbas – Yummy Things, Newcastle; Julia Austin – Tyne Bank Brewery; Steven James Smith – Vaux Brewery, Sunderland; Niall and Victoria McKay-Mount – Screaming Chilli Chimp Sauce, Witton Gilbert; Anna and Bill Scantlebury – Cullercoats Brewery; Elise Lane – Laneberg Wine, Gateshead; David Dodd – Three Brothers Brewery, Stockton; Yousef Doubooni – Cameron’s Brewery, Hartlepool; Reece Hugill – Donzoko Brewing Company, Hartlepool; Naseem Suleman – Al-Ameen Royal Honey, Newcastle; Bridget Deane – Fat Lass Preserves, Newcastle; Isaac Nolan – Chasing Everest Brew Company, Blyth.