IN a barnstorming speech at this year’s NFU conference, president Minette Batters called for the establishment of a new food and farming commission.

A new forum of experts was needed to define the principles that would ensure Government upheld the current high standards of British food production post-Brexit, she told delegates in Birmingham on Tuesday.

It would be tasked with making clear recommendations on the UK’s future food trade policy, including how to ensure food imports met the same high standards as British farmers and how future trade deals ought to be scrutinised by Parliament and industry.

Crucially, there had to be a commitment the Government would act on its recommendations.

Stressing that a strong farming industry went hand-in-hand with a strong environment, Mrs Batters also expanded on the union’s ambitious plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and help British farming achieve net zero by 2040.

Improving production efficiency and incentivising carbon capture from the atmosphere were part of the strategy.

Mrs Batters also reiterated the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation’s food security, environment and wellbeing.

“The scale of the challenge is enormous,” she said. “Around 200 million meals are eaten every day in Britain and the population is growing. We are proud to produce much of that food. We are proud of our standards. We are proud that British people have access to affordable and quality British food regardless of their income.

“I have asked the Secretary of State to commit to ensuring that any future new trade agreements will not undermine British food standards. Put simply, a commitment that after Brexit the food Britain imports will be produced to the same standards which is legally required of British farmers.

“And when I say standards, I mean all of the high standards British farmers observe – often at considerable expense – in protecting the environment, safeguarding animal welfare and providing safe food.

“Mr Gove has said that over his dead body would British standards be undermined. I don’t want it written in blood. I want it written in ink.”

“Maintaining our food standards is critical, which is why I am asking for a high-level commission to be convened, bringing together government officials, industry representatives, civil society groups and experts in food and farming.”

Further, that commission should be charged with producing a report by the end of the year.