AN amendment to the Government's Agricultural Bill tabled by Lord Donald Curry of Kirkharle is to be considered by MPs after it was passed by the House of Lords.

Lord Curry's Amendment 101, which calls for the permanent establishment of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, was passed through the upper house by 266 votes to 159.

Lord Curry hopes the amendment would protect farmers in the event of a trade deal with the US. There are fears the Agricultural Bill could mean UK farmers would be undercut by US farmers working to lower food standards.

Lord Curry said: "My amendment was to build on the work of the Trade and Agricultural Commission that the Government established. It was given a six month life and its work will be finished by the end of the year.

"My amendment is that it should be given a permanent role beyond those six months, at least for the lifetime of this parliament, to scrutinise new trade deals and act as a watch dog, to make sure our market isn't undercut."

Lord Curry's speech in the House of Lords made reference to Environmental Land Management, which will see farmers paid for responsible management of land.

But he contunued: "There's a lot of uncertainty about ELMs. No-one knows ho wit's going to be designed, but even if farmers embrace that, the price they get at the market place will be the most important economic factor.

"There's a lot of pressure on MPs to pass it - particularly on rural MPs who have a lot of farmers in their constituency.

"I do hope that the MPs in the North East will give this amendment their support."