FORMER Australian Prime Minister and UK Trade Adviser Tony Abbott joined Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, in a heavy weight debate about the future of UK agriculture and trade in the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) Bitesize webinar.

Tony Abbott, who during his time as Australian Prime Minister closed trade deals with Japan, China, and South Korea, said he knows the importance of maintaining a competitive agricultural environment whilst actively pursuing free trade deals.“When it comes to trade the aim should always be to freely trade high-quality goods and services. Historically Britain has always welcomed goods, ideas, people and capital. Britons have always had a robust sense of their capacity to do things well, and to learn from anyone who might be able to do better,” said Mr Abbott.

With the recent announcement of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to safeguard UK interests, Minette Batters noted that the public want any future trade to be fair and transparent.“We formed the most extraordinary coalition of groups and people led by Jamie Oliver which led to one million people signing our food standards petition. What it says is that people want our trade to ultimately be fair and not undermine our farmers.My role is to speak truth to power, and our government made an ironclad commitment that they would not undermine farmers.For all of us on the periphery, it is parliament that should and can decide our future. And with a majority government, it is absolutely vital, being a country that is made up of four nations, that this is an open and transparent process and not dictated behind the four walls of the Department International Trade,” said Mrs Batters.