Benn's Plans To Nationalise The Means of Production
A strategy to protect the health of England's soils and ensure they continue to store carbon dioxide, will be published by the government later.
Mr Benn said: "Soil is one of the building blocks of life. Good quality soils are essential for a thriving farming industry, a sustainable food supply, and a healthy environment.
"Britain's soils hold more carbon than all the trees in Europe's forests - and their protection is critical if we are to successfully combat climate change.
A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesman said: "England's soil has suffered over the last 200 years from the impacts of intensive farming and industrial pollution, and today is under threat from erosion by wind and rain, a loss of organic matter and nutrients, and pressure for development."
The new strategy will set out plans to "halt and reverse" this degradation over the next 20 years.
The BBC's environment correspondent, Sarah Mukherjee, said although farmers are pleased the government is taking the issue seriously, some say this report is behind the times.
"Behind the times"? There is no evidence of any major degradation of top soil in this country, by any measure the vast majority of it is improving and is increasingly well cared for. It provides the livelihood for farmers so it is in their interest to do so.
All this report will do is increase the already onerous rules and regulations that farmers have to follow. Instead of being the best judges of what they can do on their own farms they have to follow Mr Benn's rules set in Whitehall.
(One result is pressure on the House Martin population - they need mud to build their nests and cattle tracks were a common source - farmers aren't allowed to let cattle puddle the ground now so their is less mud and so it is reported the nests fail more often.)