According to the chief executive of Tesco we should be leaving it to the consumer to regulate food prices.

In Sir Terry Leahy’s view, when we shop in a supermarket we wield the same power as when we make the effort to vote at a general election.

If us consumers want cheaper food, then Tesco will provide it and the supply chain, including farmers, will have to adapt to it, he suggests, gazing through his rose-tinted spectacles.

Does that mean lowering welfare standards and people’s expectation of quality, Sir Terry? And will our agricultural labour force take a pay cut so that Joe Public can save a few pennies on a litre of milk?

If there is one lesson we have learned during the credit crunch, the free market may not always be the most perfect model to safeguard British food production. Consumers tend to think short-term.

Of course they want cheaper food now, blow the long-term consequences. But will they still feel the same way when we no longer have enough farmers in business to meet at least some of our food needs?

The UK can only be secure as an island nation if we have a level of self-sufficiency in food production.

If we cannot learn from western Europe being held to ransom by a dispute between Russia and the Ukraine, arguing over the supply of gas through a pipeline, then think of the effects on our country of a blockade on food imports for a month.

Sensible and proportionate regulation is necessary to safeguard British food production.

Without it how can producers expect a fair price to give them confidence to plan and invest for the future.