The chief executive of the National Sheep Association (NSA) has launched an attack on the senior government advisor reportedly behind comments stating the UK 'does not need farming'.

Tim Leunig reportedly stated that ‘Britain doesn’t need farmers’, which has created controversy in the industry at a time when it is worried about the future.

The senior Treasury adviser argued that the agricultural and fishery sectors were not 'critically important', only making a negligible contribution to the economy. In his comments, he also suggested that farmers should not be given tax breaks denied to other industries.

Phil Stocker, from the NSA has joined other industry bodies in disputing the comments.

“The comments reportedly made by Tim Leunig are alarming although we’ve known that these views do unfortunately exist in certain Whitehall quarters." he said.

"It is particularly concerning however given that Mr Leunig is an adviser to, and friend of Dominic Cummings who we know is especially influential in the inner circles of Number 10.

“A nation’s agriculture is a fundamentally strategic need and providing food security could not be more important particularly with the climate and political volatility we are starting to experience.

"Climate change is throwing up so many uncertainties and while British farmers have felt the force of this in recent years, and indeed are feeling it today with unprecedented recent rainfall, most predictions suggest that future conditions in Britain will mean our food producers may need to be relied on even more.”

NSA is keen to remind government officials of the vital role the agricultural sector has on UK economics and everyday life in the UK.

UK farmers produce more than 60 per cent of the food that is consumed in the UK, and exports of agri-food products amount to over £18 billion annually.

Mr Stocker added: “Our agricultural sector is one to be extremely proud of, one that is capable of supplying the highest quality nutrition, grown and reared using environmentally friendly, sustainable methods to its population.

"To abandon this sounds almost too ridiculous to believe but we have to take views and comments such as this seriously because if supposedly intelligent people in positions of influence think this way then the views are probably more deeply held than we realise.

"It must be remembered that a nation that cannot feed itself is one to be pitied.”