Put food production at the forefront of agricultural policy Red Tractor Assurance has told the government.

“It is the demand for food, both in the UK and around the globe, that should shape and drive this industry and future policy needs to reflect that,” said Jim Moseley, the organisation's CEO.

“Government should be putting more resource and focus behind British agriculture to transform it into a growth industry that takes a greater share of the domestic market and exploits new export opportunities where the strengths of produce produced here are really valued."

He urged caution over placing too much emphasis on other significant, but less critical, objectives of the Health and Harmony paper considering the future of farming.

"There is, for example, a sharp focus on animal welfare and environmental sustainability in the paper and while these are two great strengths of our industry, policy that encourages higher standards still may result in British agriculture becoming a niche player in the global food market.

"Red Tractor is already the foundation stone of British agriculture sitting independently as an authority in the UK and the world over. Our response has reminded government that as the largest and most comprehensive assurance scheme in the UK, there is no organisation better placed to deliver practical and robust performance metrics against the Health and Harmony vision.

“There is no need to re-invent the assurance wheel.”

The assurance body has more than 60,000 members incorporating nearly every agricultural sector.