The last few years haven’t been easy for our local farmers, having to handle Covid-19, new funding arrangements, and significant energy costs amongst many other pressures.

That’s why the Government is supporting the long-term resilience and profitability of the agricultural sector, and I'm pleased to report that its support - together with the sheer hard work of Cheshire farmers - is making a positive impact on agricultural exports and rural incomes.

Trade in UK dairy products has risen from 2021 levels. The European Union was and remains a vital neighbouring market for dairy exports: particularly countries such as Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

In 2022 the total dairy export volume increased by two per cent, with milk and cream representing the growth products at 24,650 additional tonnes exported, along with a 22,400 tonne increase in cheese exports: good news for Cheshire!

Red meat, too, resulted in record earnings for the food and farming sector from exports - due in part to higher prices, but also a 22 per cent increase in sales worth £1.7 billion.

The value of beef shipments alone increased by 46 per cent - again helped by our European Union neighbours, but also Japanese and Canadian aficionados of British quality.

These figures demonstrate that our farmers are moving forward, generating extra export income from both increased volume and increased value, and they have, in turn, recognised that value flowing back to their sector and back to their farms.

I'm enthused, but there's no room for complacency, and the Government must continue to do all it can to enable agricultural businesses to thrive. In doing so, it must, naturally, recognise and value the need for food security to sit alongside environmental sustainability.

To that end, Direct Payments in England are being made in two instalments each year for the remainder of the agricultural transition period, to help farmers with their cashflow, and around £600 million of grants and other support for farmers to invest in productivity has been committed over the next three years.

Indeed, the Government has already paid out more than £30 million for technology and equipment - having increased its original budget from £17 million - and committed £90 million to the agricultural Innovation Programme.

On top of this, it has provided 10,000 farmers with help and advice through the Future Farming Resilience Fund - which provides free advice to help farmers work out how best to run their business - and brought in eight new agri-food and drink attachés in priority markets as part of a wider plan to boost exports even further, unlock potential barriers to trade, and open up new opportunities around the world.

And, whilst many challenges remain, our dairy and livestock farms in Eddisbury, clearly, stand to benefit - both from those opportunities and the amazing efforts of their farmers, who I continue to meet with regularly.

We as food consumers owe them and their workforces an immense debt of gratitude.