THE leader of the Tenant Farmers’ Association has called for the reappointment of a dedicated Cabinet minister for agriculture and food.

Greg Bliss, national chairman, said: “There is nothing more basic to our future sustainability as a nation as our ability to feed ourselves.

“Although the Government believes that as a rich nation we could, if needed, import our way out of any future problems, it is too high-risk a strategy to rely upon imports of food as the way ahead.”

Mr Bliss said international trade in food should continue but the country must not rely upon it.

He accused the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of largely forgetting the need to preserve a vibrant agricultural industry in Britain.

“Although we still hear the right things in Defra speeches, policy statements and announcements, its actions speak louder than words,” said Mr Bliss.

“The lack of any policy to control and eradicate bovine TB, the imposition of new nitrate vulnerable zone regulations without the help to implement them, plans to pass the Government’s animal health bill onto the industry, threatening the reintroduction of setaside on arable farmers and bringing the hill farm allowance to an end show clearly the Government’s heart and mind are focused elsewhere than on agriculture.”