Defra secretary Michael Gove must consider his policy proposals for UK agriculture more deeply if the sector is to thrive outside the European Union.
Mr Gove has hardly been out of the news since his appointment earlier this summer – visiting agricultural shows, making policy pronouncements and appearing on TV in almost equal measure.
Some commentators thought Mr Gove would spend the summer getting to grips with his brief before unveiling his plans for UK agriculture and life after Brexit later this autumn – possibly at the Tory party conference in September.
But it seems Mr Gove feels he has already familiarised himself with the issues affecting UK agriculture as the UK prepares for Brexit.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Mr Gove quickly carved out a reputation as a radical reformer in his previous ministerial posts at the departments of justice and education.
Now he appears determined to take the same approach at Defra – true to his reputation as a quick-thinking political reformer,
Most people within the industry acknowledge that Brexit means big changes to farm support.
So too does Mr Gove, who last month announced that farmers will get only get taxpayers’ cash if they agree to protect the environment and enhance rural life.
At first glance, this seems ok.
It has become increasingly hard to defend direct payments made to farmers – especially when those payments are made whether farms produce food or not.
Now that will all be in the past.
Post-Brexit, farmers will have to do more for their money – and that means farmers will incur more costs, which will eat into any income.
Rightly or wrongly, many farmers currently use their direct payments to offset any losses from their main farm businesses.
In fact, on average, farmers across the UK make far more money from subsidies than they do from agriculture.
Post-Brexit, it is also clear that farmers will be expected to earn more of their income from farming – or from undertaking environmental work.
But earning more money from farming will be a challenge for many producers.
Last month, it appeared UK trade secretary Liam Fox might be willing to open Britain up to cheap imports of American “chlorine-washed” chicken and hormone-produced beef if it paved the way for a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA.
Neither of those production practices are allowed in the UK.
At the same time, Mr Gove has spoken of wanting the UK to maintain food production standards, including in animal welfare.
Just last week, he announced plans for CCTV systems to be compulsorily installed in slaughterhouses across England.
Again, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that – but it could have unintended consequences.
Abattoirs, for example, could pass the cost of installing CCTV back to already cash-strapped livestock producers.
Piling extra additional environmental and production costs on to producers while opening up the country to cheap food imports will threaten to drive many UK farmers out of business.