ONE farmer is laying out how he will help to protect and give a voice to the 55,000 members of the largest union in his industry.

With Britain currently negotiates the terms of its withdrawal from the EU, the leadership of the National Farming Union (NFU) feel the role of their organisation has never been more vital.

So says newly-elected NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw, who has laid out his key ambitions for the future of UK farming post Brexit.

Tom, 37, is a fourth generation arable farmer based at Fordham.

He feels food standards and a reliance on home-grown product must be at the core of the union’s message.

“We are proud of standards in the UK,” he said.

“We have some of the highest hygiene standards anywhere in the world, and the last thing we want is to undermine those standards by importing foods which do not meet them.”

For two years Mr Bradshaw worked as chairman of the union’s combinable crops board, campaigning to see the Government commit to a trade policy which does not undermine UK crop growers.

The union fears the efforts of farmers to become more climate friendly could be hampered by cheap imports of food produced using methods which are illegal in the UK.

It seeks legal guarantees that products including chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef will not be allowed into the UK under any future deal.

“This is our key battleground,” said Mr Bradshaw.

“We don’t know the importance of agriculture in trade talks, we cannot pretend it is the main driver but we have an opportunity to be world leaders in sustainable farming and to set the tone for future trade.

“It is a period of huge change but with change comes opportunity.

“We have very high standards, this is something the British customer understands and now is the opportunity to back UK farming.”

Mr Bradshaw hopes the UK farming industry can tap into technological advances in several fields including robotics.

“The Government has said it is committed to giving us access to new technology,” he said.

“The Prime Minister stood outside Number 10 and said he will give us access to things like new breeding technology.

“I think these technological advantages are critical to minimising the footprint of our production.

“We have also got to make sure we maintain access to our workforce.

“Looking at horticulture, while technological changes are ongoing we need workers to fill the gap between now and then.

“We are worried the new immigration policy could hamper this.”

Early in February, the Government unveiled its new Immigration Bill, revealing the steps migrants must take to qualify for UK entry after January 1 2021.

Migrants will have to gain 70 points to be eligible for a visa.

They must earn more than £25,600, have a job offer and speak English to a certain level in order to qualify.

In the short term, Mr Bradshaw is placing hope in the Seasonal Workers Pilot.

The two-year scheme supports farmers by allowing non-EU migrant workers to work on farms, then return home after six months.

“This pilot has been raised to allow farmers to hire up to 10,000 workers,” he said. “This absolutely critical for horticulture produce.”

He added: “The NFU at the moment is facing the biggest change in the industry for at least half a century, it is more important than ever we try to secure the best deal for our members.”