Lord Frost gave several reasons for his ‘disillusionment’ with the Government’s policy when he dramatically resigned over the weekend.

But as well as the crippling cost of ‘net zero’, high taxes and the Plan B to tackle Covid, there was one vital – and traditionally Conservative – area the former Brexit negotiator did not mention.

That, of course, is the Government’s approach to farming and food production. The media largely neglected the same subject in discussions of last week’s by- election in North Shropshire – which saw the Tories lose a seat they had held for almost 200 years.

But this could scarcely be more important – and it cuts to the heart of what this Government is doing.

Do we want the ‘lightly regulated, low-tax, entrepreneurial economy’ that Lord Frost described – which implies a rejection of farm support alongside much higher imports of food from less regulated countries?

Is it possible that we are now a big state economy with an interventionist Industrial Strategy, which is dependent on higher taxes so the Conservative Party retains the Red Wall Votes won in the last elections?

NFU president Minette Batters (pictured) says that if we care about where food comes from, animal-welfare standards, and the countryside then we need policies that support our farmers

Minette Batters of NFU, President (pictured), said that policies should be implemented to help farmers.

Combining the best aspects of farming and food is the future.

Farmers now face the possibility of ending up with the worst of both the best and worse because of the inability to think strategically in government.

We need to care about the land, where it comes from and what animal welfare standards are being met, as well as the rural environment, so we must have a network of policies that help our farmers.

We will be world leaders in climate-friendly, sustainable farming. I have supported the Government’s commitment to sign trade deals – but our recently announced deal with Australia has serious problems.

The ‘impact assessment’ that came alongside the Australia deal predicted falls in gross output for UK beef and sheep meat. This could have a huge impact on the family farms of areas like the Welsh highlands.

Free trade is built on the notion that there will be some losers – hopefully outnumbered by the winners – and decades of trade liberalisation show that to be true.

MS Batters say the ¿impact assessment¿ that came alongside the Australia deal predicted falls in gross output for UK beef and sheep meat and the impact of that on family farms will be huge

MS Batters say the ‘impact assessment’ that came alongside the Australia deal predicted falls in gross output for UK beef and sheep meat and the impact of that on family farms will be huge

Deals with major agricultural producers, such as Australia and New Zealand, are made to allow us to import more of their food. And that is what we’ve agreed to – in spades.

The obvious conclusion is that the British government will make every effort to ensure British farmers are able to compete in today’s new competitive environment. However, this is not the case. In contrast to Lord Frost’s view of a ‘lightly regulated’ system, we see Defra promoting the counter position with considerable success.

The Animal Sentience Bill is now on the table for farmers.

And Government increasingly seems to support the removal of land from food production – often by ‘rewilding’, this threatens farmers’ livelihoods as well as Britain’s self-sufficiency and food security.

The UK’s trade policy is forcing British farmers to face imports from the most productive farmers worldwide. Another Government department has tied their hands.

We’re still culling healthy pigs and putting pig farmers out of business. Due to lack of seasonal workers, this summer £60million worth of unharvested crops were wasted, left to rot in the fields. Inflation has caused our prices to soar.

Due to a lack of seasonal workers in abattoirs, British farmers are still culling healthy pigs

British farmers still kill healthy pigs due to the lack of seasonal workers in abattoirs.

It is clear now. Farmers’ incomes will be squeezed. Prices will increase. And we will increasingly have to compete with imports which don’t face the same standards and regulations UK farmers adhere to.

It is important that the government communicates with farmers about the consequences of its two-tiered current approach.

They need to face up to the reality of the decisions they’re taking, commit in writing to growing our self-sufficiency in food production and bring together a food and farming policy that works for everyone.

And it’s time for this Government to remember it cannot rely for ever on that vital voter base: Farmers and rural populations.