Caller paints 'chilling' picture of post-Brexit countryside to James O'Brien

30 November 2020, 12:14 | Updated: 30 November 2020, 12:33

This caller paints a "chilling" picture of the post-Brexit British countryside as "farms won't be able to survive" without the sufficient subsidies provided by the EU.

By Fiona Jones

The Government will unveil its plan to phase out existing subsidies to farmers in England once the Brexit transition period ends.

Despite warnings this could "devastate" the farming industry, Environment Secretary George Eustice will set out a new support scheme on Monday, insisting Brexit will offer "new opportunities for British farmers."

Read more: 'UK could face no Brexit trade deal this year as deadline looms,' admits Eustice

Caller Kevin worked for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to calculate farmer subsidies for over thirty years and told James this could send a lot of landowners out of business.

"Areas like the Lake District, Exmoor...which are farmed landscapes, very marginal farming, they sustain their farming because of EU subsidies particularly to beef, dairy and sheep," Kevin said.

He explained that farmers get environmental subsidies from the EU and tariff protection at the border and once that goes farmers in the Lake District, for example, are likely to be under "serious pressure".

"That means that the Lake District could become an area that's just forested, and who's going to want to go to the Lake District if it's forested?" Kevin pointed out, confirming to James his spectacles "are not rose-tinted" over the Government's new agricultural scheme.

"I think you'll have great concentration of livestock, like huge dairy units, and there'll be fights between some areas of the country between rural inhabitants and these huge cow sheds...I think that's the future," he told James, which James described as "chilling."

Kevin said that the EU has "plenty to answer for" in terms of the way it gains subsidies, "but the tone of this Government, I would say, you will see serious changes in the British farm landscape, because farms will go out of business, they won't be able to survive."