FARM leaders are appealing to the Cumbrian farming community to help shape the future of the agricultural industry.

Prominent county union leader, Alistair Mackintosh is asking local farmers to email their MP to ask them to join the Agriculture Bill Report Stage debate in Parliament on Wednesday and speak up for farmers.

National Farmers Union (NFU) North West Regional Management Board chairman and West Cumbrian beef and sheep farmer, Mr Mackintosh said: “The Agriculture Bill’s passage also now coincides with one of the most serious crises our nation has faced in a generation in the form of the coronavirus, which has focused minds on the critical, but often overlooked, issue of food security.

“With the longer-term challenge of climate change equally relevant to agricultural policy, it has never been more important for government, parliament, farmers and other stakeholders to work together to get this bill right.”

NFU North West Regional Director David Hall said: “The Agriculture Bill is the most important piece of legislation to come before Parliament for UK farming, particularly in England, for many decades.

“I want to see as many farmers as possible in the region writing to our North West based MPs, making appointments for one of their constituency survey sessions, joining their local MP’s zoom calls and talking about the issues the Agriculture Bill presents on social media.

“It is essential that environmental, animal welfare and safety standards of UK food production are not undermined in any future trade policy, to ensure that the food we see on our supermarket shelves meets the same standards British farmers are proud to produce to.

“The report stage of the Agriculture Bill is a key opportunity to shape the legislation. Over recent weeks, and sparked into action by coronavirus, the need for a resilient food supply that meets high standards has been demonstrated.

“The Agriculture Bill will result in the biggest reform and transformation of British agriculture since 1945 and we want to ensure that every MP appreciates the importance of a strong agricultural sector delivering high quality food for Britain.”

The NFU has important requests of Government, and these include: Government will be required to report on food security every five years, the NFU says this should happen every year with requirements relating to domestic production food security and commitments to prevent any decline in self-sufficiency; Government must ensure that future trade deals require agricultural imports to meet UK environmental, animal welfare, and food safety standards with a Trade and Standards Commission to monitor this; Government intervention in the market should be strengthened to take account of ‘significant’ disturbances; Basic Payment Scheme phase out should be delayed for at least a year.

NFU members should visit for further details.