“British business is sick and tired of what is happening in the House of Commons. We are a national and international embarrassment,” Dr Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital Markets, told a political briefing at the Oxford Farming Conference.

The former head of food policy at the NFU took a swipe at Westminster, stating that its shortcomings over Brexit had driven away billions of pounds of investments, by engendering “a lack of trust in the stability of the UK.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Dr Black stressed that the outcome would be disastrous for the European Union, most particularly for the republic of Ireland. He voiced his frustration over the back-stop issue and delivered a clear message to the policy makers of the UK: “Politicians in Westminster need to think about their responsibilities and how they will be written up in time. I think political historians will be very critical.”

Looking to the future direction of food production, he saidthe changing nature of consumer demand and the need for farmers to embrace change. “Population growth is good for food demand, but we must recognise that our consumers are changing in the way that they view food, how they buy it and where from – farming must step up to embrace this,” he stated.

“Folks aren’t doing weekly or monthly big shops anymore but eating in a more unstructured way. Family meals are changing and aren’t seen as the big occasion they once were and convenience every day buying is taking over,” he explained.

“The focus must turn to well-being, which is the most powerful term in the food industry - it will be a driving force for food markets, moving away from processed, synthetic or engineered food to a desire for wholesome products.

NFU president, Minette Batters, weighed in by calling for an end to wish list politics and a re-focus on leadership and action.

Three words, she said, summed up the current climate - “risk, opportunity and change” –expressing her concern over the challenges presented by future immigration policy, trade deals and the Uk Agri Bill. She called for fairer media reporting, particularly drawing on the recent headlines linking climate change to livestock production – tarnishing the UK with the same brush as those nations performing much lower in responsible livestock management.

“There are no bad foods but many bad diets,” Ms Batters stressed. “Food has been undervalued for far too long and we need to build a closer relationship between consumers and food producers to overcome this. The media has a role to play, but I ask why there are always environment correspondents over food correspondents?” She concluded by calling on secretary of state Michael Gove to be a brand ambassador for British food.

Shadow minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, David Drew MP, echoed her sentiments: “We need to make fundamental improvements to the UK Agri Bill and thus far it is a long wish list of powers and less focus on duties and actions.”

The lack of ‘food’ in a supposedly ‘food’ Bill was raised by Mr Drew: “Where is food in this Agri Bill?” he asked. “It is somewhere hidden behind the scenes, but it needs to be up the front. The relationship between health, food and the environment needs to be well spelt out in legislation itself,” he stressed.

“Unless we are able to place agriculture at the core, then we will always be worried that this will lead to a race to the bottom and cuts where we cannot afford that. This conference is about opportunity, but it is also about security in the way that we must make sure this Bill is made fit for purpose.”