The Scottish and Welsh Governments are giving their farmers more time to prepare for big policy changes than Defra in England. It is small, family farmers who will pay the price for this rush to abolish direct support, says Labour Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard.
Farming is undergoing a revolution.
The mammoth changes in farm funding announced by Ministers will fundamentally change the landscape of English agriculture.
There are elements to cheer from the rooftops.
The ending of the principle of funding for owning land is welcome, as is the focus on incentivising environmental best practice, tree planting to prevent flooding and a new emphasis on soil health.
The absence of proper detail to enable farmers to plan is worrying, but expected from a Government that prefers the sugar rush of headlines to the graft of the detail.
The cuts to direct payments are the price farmers will pay for this new policy.
For large landowners the subsidy helps inflate margins, but for many, it is the difference between staying solvent or collapsing.
I worry that too little attention has been paid to the plight of smaller farms and family farms, in particular.
They are the backbone of rural communities; the hallmark of English agriculture.
And they risk being lost in a matter of years due to the short-sighted rush of Ministers.
Scotland and Wales are phasing out the BPS scheme over time while introducing their versions of public money for public goods.
This prudent and sensible approach has the backing of farmers who know shock treatment rarely works without losses.
Having turned their back on farmers over maintaining standards on imported food, it seems a curious approach to then anger them immediately with a direct assault on the viability of family farms.
This is why some are calling these policies Thatcherism for the countryside.
There is much to support in terms of ambition in the Government’s thinking, but their failure to prepare and plan for the changes will be a price paid by smaller farmers.
It is a price that is too high.
Farmers want to focus on food, but again, they’re being forced to become lobbyists. Compelled by bad decision making in Whitehall to argue their case for survival.
This isn’t about a few percentage points here, or tweaks there.
If Ministers do not listen to family farms and their cries of outrage and desperation, we will lose them, and they will not return.
That may achieve the Government’s unspoken ambition of a more mechanised, industrialised agriculture, more reliant on food imports, but it will not support our rural communities.
I want to see Ministers listen to farming communities and amend their proposals, otherwise I fear 2021 could be a very tough year for family farms.
Luke can be found tweeting at @LukePollard