THE passage of the Agriculture Bill from the House of Commons to the Lords without amendment was a huge disappointment to many members.

There was frustration that MPs who support food and farming did not vote for the amendment put forward by Neil Parish or Simon Hoare, with only 20 Conservative MP rebelling - two of those were from the North West.

There are several areas the NFU would like to see improvements made, alongside upholding our standards of animal welfare and environmental standards.

As you will be aware, the NFU has lobbied hard to ensure that government holds fast to its manifesto commitment to not reduce our standards of production when doing trade deals.

The campaign has secured huge support from the public with over one million people signing our petition and an unprecedented number of people emailing their MP directly.

In fact, every MP in the country has received correspondence on this subject from one of their constituents. The support has been phenomenal and the pressure this has put on government finally bore fruit when Liz Truss wrote to our President, Minette Batters, on June 28 stating that she would establish a Food and Agriculture Trade Commission.

This is something we have been requesting for over 18 months and Michael Gove committed to at NFU Conference in 2018.

The commitment from the Department for International Trade to establish the commission is not the end of the work. We need to ensure that the road map the commission develops is used to assess future trade deals and ensure there is parliamentary scrutiny as deals are done with countries around the world.

This is a significant win for the NFU and the coalition of organisations that came together on this issue. Minette has worked with many organisations on a common goal and focused on the issue we do agree on, world class welfare and environmental standards. She did not worry about the areas where there are differences of opinion.

This clearly shows the power of collaboration within the industry and the strength of feeling from the public. I was also delighted when Booths were the first supermarket to publicly show their commitment and that weekend we achieved the 1 millionth signature on the petition. I feel I can say that it was the North West that got the NFU to a major milestone.Whilst protecting standards is a huge issue and will impact on farmers for years to come, there are pressing issues for the here and now.

Defra have finally launched a consultation to look at dairy contracts and we need members to engage with us and give your views on how contracts can be made better and more balanced.

The NFU team are missing getting out and about seeing members and attending the county shows which are a fantastic shop window for our industry.I do hope that it won’t be too much longer before we can organise some meetings and see each other face to face.