Since my last column, several pieces of legislation have been debated in the Commons. The most exciting one, in my view, was the Agriculture Bill, which supports two key interests for the Wantage and Didcot constituency: farming and protecting the environment.

The Bill will replace the Common Agriculture Policy with a new system for paying farmers ‘public money for public goods’. Food production will be central to this, as it should be. But the ground-breaking part of the legislation is that farmers will also be able to be paid for improving our environment: amongst other things, receiving money to improve our air quality, our water quality, to protect our biodiversity or improve our soil.

As I said in the debate, farmers are the natural custodians for our environment and whilst much of what is discussed in the House of Commons can be procedural, this particular piece of legislation will replace an entire system that has operated for decades – and is widely criticised across the EU for being inefficient, bureaucratic and bad for the environment – with one that can boost farming and greatly complement our environmental goals.

There are concerns, of course, and amendments were tabled to say that we would not import any food that did not meet the UK’s current standards. Whilst it is absolutely true that the UK has some of the highest food, animal welfare and environmental standards in the world, the amendments were voted down as they were not compatible with WTO rules and would have harmed both current and future exports.

Before anyone fears this means we will now be eating chlorine-washed chicken, it is worth me quoting Farming Minister (and Oxfordshire MP) Victoria Prentis: ‘We have heard mention of the dreaded chlorine-washed chicken several times, and I would like to reassure the House that under existing regulations, which we will put into English law at the end of this year, chlorine-washed chicken is not allowed, and only a vote of this House can change that.’

There will be more to do to support farmers. There is the issue of food labelling we will need to tackle after the transition period, so that descriptions of how food has been produced are clearly defined and consistently applied, allowing us to buy it with confidence. We need to turbo-boost the export campaigns like ‘Food is Great’. And we need to support small farms, which have high-quality produce but lack the resources to negotiate fair contracts with big supermarkets, to be able to do so. But with the average age of farmers currently at 60, maybe, just maybe, the Agriculture Bill will encourage a younger generation of farmers to want to maintain our land.