Following Michael Gove’s appointment as environment secretary, the National Sheep Association is calling for reassurances which give sheep farmers confidence in his enthusiasm for the sector.

As Brexit negotiations begin, the association believes it is vital for Mr Gove to demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing agriculture.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “There may well be more to Michael Gove’s empathy with farming than meets the eye, but NSA immediately received an alarming number of concerned contact from members on the day following his appointment.

"We share this concern and are asking Mr Gove to urgently give the sheep industry some confidence that he understands the value of our sector - I’d like to see an immediate commitment to achieve tariff free trade routes into the EU post Brexit.

“There are two distinctly differing views within senior members of Government, those who advocate raising production standards and quality and those who see Brexit as a chance to import increasingly cheaper food into the UK.

"Just over a year ago Michael Gove showed he was clearly in the cheap import camp while being interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

"Any secretary of state with a responsibility for Britain’s farming and food agenda cannot move forward with that vision for the future, we need some clear statements of intent urgently."