Opinion: We must all push the message for British farming wherever possible

There has been a warm welcome to the newly introduced Agriculture Bill.

It seems the Government was listening when it brought back a Bill with more focus on food production, soil health and food scrutiny.

Minette Batters said she was pleased to see action has been taken to ensure the vital role of farmers as food producers is properly valued.

And that is what must be at the forefront of negotiations as the Government thrashes out a trade deal – the vital role of farmers as food producers. Any move which fails to safeguard this and allows food to be imported into the country which is produced to standards which would be illegal here would be a betrayal of British farming.

This is a UK industry which leads the world in welfare and has clearly laid out its ambitions on climate change with a net zero target by 2040.

Farming, landowner, wildlife and conservation organisations have welcomed the new system of paying public money for public goods. Farmers are paid for the measures they put in place to benefit the environment, support wildlife and boost animal welfare.

It is a scheme which makes sense, after all, as Ms Batters points out, food production and caring for the environment go hand-in-hand, something which is often overlooked or unknown by the wider public.

These are subjects close to every farmer. At the recent Plough Sunday Service in Ripon Cathedral, Future Farmer James Johnson said he had seen the evidence of climate change from working with Mother Nature on a daily basis.

So while there is a long way to go before everything is settled, the Bill does provide some stability as we go into the new year.

The introduction of the Bill is a good start; the fact the Government listened is another positive point.

The next crucial step will be the right trade deal and we all must push the message for British farming wherever possible and, remember, we have a great story to tell.

Sophie McCandlish is a Yorkshire Post Agricultural Correspondent