A petition backed by farming industry leaders in Dorset has reached one million signatures.

Over one million people have signed a petition urging the government not to allow cheap, low-quality food to be imported under new trade deals.

The petition, launched by the National Farmers Union, has been backed by farming industry leaders across Dorset, along with celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.

This comes amid concerns that imported products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef could find their way to UK shelves, undermining the efforts of UK farmers.

Food of this quality would be illegal for UK farmers to produce and impossible to match in price.

Mike Watkins, the Dorset chairman for the National Farmers Union, said: "It's brilliant that so many people have signed the petition.

“Hopefully it will make the government take notice and listen, people want to know where their food is coming from.

"The government have said they want to keep the standards of food production in this country high, but then they're trying to do deals with USA and all around the world, and the danger is they let in food which is produced to a lower standard than is legal for us to produce."

"It could be devastating for British agriculture if food is imported and sold at a lower price. There's a lot of farms which would be in serious financial trouble."

The aim of the petition is to put pressure on the UK government to put into law, rules that would prevent food which is illegal to produce in the UK to be imported into the country.

It also supports the introduction of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission, which would oversee and review trade policy and ensure all food imports meet UK standards.

Mr Watkins continued: "We're not allowed to reduce our standards and we don't want to reduce our standards but we can't compete against food produced at lower standards. Especially when there's a lot of pressure on the agriculture business already.

“We've very vulnerable at the moment with new agriculture bills coming in after leaving the EU and we've just come out of one of the wettest winters ever and now we're in the middle of a drought. We're getting hit in all directions.

"The danger is it could be a race to the bottom on food standards to compete.

"We're not looking to drop standards, we want to produce to higher standards, quality wise and in terms of environmental and welfare standards for our animals.

"We're proud of British agriculture but that comes at a cost and we can't compete with world prices if they just let anything in.”

The petition can be found at www.nfuonline.com.