When people think about the countryside, the first image is often green fields full of grazing sheep or lumbering cows (and the great country pubs of course!).

Perhaps we sometimes take these idyllic images for granted because they are ubiquitous as soon as you step away from cities and towns. They certainly obscure the hard graft and sacrifice that is needed to run a farm.

Farming is a much raised topic and has been throughout my time as an MP. Often a subject raised in the context of Brexit and always a subject where opinions are strong. Two thirds of East Hampshire is farmland, mostly arable, so it’s incredibly important locally.

Over the last year alone, the government has invested £2.4 billion in farming.

Most recently, the government announced a package of grants worth over £400m for the farming sector. Funding has also been set aside to support farming mental health charities. Sadly, we are all acutely aware of the mental toll a farming life can have an individual.

Now that we are moving away from the land-based subsidies of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, the government’s replacement policy will, I hope, provide farmers with a subsidy scheme that supports all types of farming, with the farmers choosing what’s best for their business.

For those farmers wanting to broaden their offering with farm shops and outside sports facilities on their land, red tape is being removed so that these plans can be proceeded quickly, and farmers can benefit from these additions more immediately.

And surplus food that cannot be used commercially, will be redistributed using a new £15 million fund, helping to stem these unavoidable losses felt by farmers.

So there is lots happening nationally to support our farmers.

Locally too, there are changes afoot.

East Hampshire is part of a test and trials project for Defra, looking at how best to manage land and natural resources in a simple and straight forward way that is led by farmers and land managers. The ultimate outcome being that nature recovery and productive farming can co-exist, rather than being pitted against each other. The project is about to go out for consultation with the local farming community so I will return to this subject in a later column.

And just a reminder that I will be hosting a public meeting in Alton this evening (Thursday 21st March). So, if you live in East Hampshire and have a question for me, please book a spot via my website (damianhinds.com).