GUY Opperman has assured the district’s farmers that food safety and high animal welfare standards will be at the heart of new UK legislation.

The Government’s Agriculture Bill is set to replace the EU led Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) following Brexit.

But worried farmers have expressed fears since an amendment to the Bill, by Devon MP Neil Parish, to protect British farmers from lower standard food imports, was defeated.

Hexham’s MP said he was given assurances at the report stage of the Bill in the Commons last month, over food standards and imports.

And Mr Opperman insisted that there would be no compromise on several key issues.

He said: “In the UK, we have built a very special market based on provenance, with particular attention to food safety and high animal welfare standards.

“The government has been clear in its manifesto that these will not be jeopardised through trade deals in the future.

“The government is committed to striking ambitious new trade deals but is adamant on one issue - in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare, and food standards.”

Mr Opperman added that the Bill would protect the values of British farming and British food.

Mr Opperman referred to a letter he and other MPs received from international trade secretary Liz Truss, and environment secretary George Eustace, which said: “We will not lower our standards as we negotiate new trade deals.”