Nada Farhoud: We must appreciate our farmers and not lower standards with Brexit

We clapped for NHS staff and gave thanks to key workers who kept the country going in the darkest days of lockdown.

Recognition should also be given to our farmers who put food on supermarket shelves and milk on the breakfast table, while the nation stayed at home.

Instead of a pat on the back, many of the UK’s 140,000 farms could go out of business if forced to compete with ­inferior foreign imports in a post-Brexit trade deal.

Last week, Government overturned amendments to a new Agriculture Bill that would have kept out these ­products that do not meet our world-class ­standards, despite a million signatures on a petition begging them not to.

Without these protections, not only will this potentially destroy the farming community but it will also drive down animal and environmental standards – leaving the patchwork of fields which make up the countryside unrecognisable.

Eating chlorinated chicken will be just the tip of the iceberg. It will also mean we could eat meat produced with growth hormones, crops grown with pesticides harmful to bees, and have no clear food labelling to help avoid these products.

We also risk losing the sustainable farms that help to keep soil healthy, protect our hedgerows, woodland, peatlands and rivers, and the wildlife that depends on these habitats.

In practice, too few farms are doing all of this. Animal welfare standards must also continue to be raised.

But it is now clear the Government has a very different vision for the British countryside. Prime Minister Boris Johnson dreams of every home being powered by wind farms by 2030 and of a land that is 30% re-wilded, home to beavers and otters, while most farms disappear and fields are turned into housing estates.

The decline of manufacturing in the UK has been a tragedy, particularly for the North of England.

The destruction of our farming community has the potential to be an ecological disaster, and one that would haunt us for decades.