The government’s post-Brexit farming proposals are a “full-throttle attack” on English family farms, according to Labour.
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard told the Commons: “Labour supports public money for public good, of course we do, but that’s not what this is about.
“Strip away the green coating and these proposals are a full-throttle attack on English family farms – English because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland farmers are going in a different direction by maintaining support for small farms for longer.
“Under these proposals, many small farms will lose up to half their current support payments within just three years, leaving many financially unviable.”
Lib Dem MP Tim Farron also warned the reforms will lead to “hundreds upon hundreds of those family farms going out of business and therefore not being in a place to deliver those environmental goods by 2028”.
He said: “The landscape of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales is shaped by centuries of family farming.
“By accident, the government could undo all of that in a few short years, even months, so will he think again and not penny pinch, and make sure that basic payment is rolled over in full until the point that the environmental land management scheme is available for everyone?”
Labour’s Barry Sheerman also criticised the environment secretary George Eustice.
He told MPs: “He is a member of a government renowned now, notorious indeed, for its chumocracy and its favours for friends, and I believe that what he’s ushering in today is a charter for city slickers, for carpet backers, for spivs to take over our farming sector and drive out the traditional smaller English farmers who have been feeding our nation for so many years. Please, please think again before you eradicate the good English farmer.”
Eustice, responding to concerns on food standards, said: “We made changes to the Bill to introduce a Trade and Agriculture Commission and to require the Secretary of State to bring a report to Parliament outlining the impacts of any trade agreements on those standards.
“We’ve also been very clear as a government that we will protect our producers from being undermined by sub-standard products produced overseas.”