CUMBRIAN MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, Tim Farron, is leading calls for the Government to protect family farmers by maintaining current farm payments until the new post-Brexit support scheme is rolled out in full.

Mr Farron has co-ordinated a cross-party group to warn that Government plans to remove farm incomes before providing an equivalent replacement risks “long term damage to British agriculture.”

In a letter to the Agriculture Secretary, George Eustice, the cross party group of Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative MPs called for farmers to be protected during the transition or else the “beautiful landscape of the UK will be damaged irrevocably.”

The National Farmers’ Union have calculated that livestock farmers, for example, “will have lost between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of their income by 2024 as a result of these reductions".

Mr Farron said: “Fears are growing that farmers could lose half their money in the next four years, threatening to drive thousands of family farmers out of business.

“Paying farms to deliver environmental goods is a step in the right direction, but if farms have been forced to close by the Government then there will be no one to restore our peat bogs, build natural flood protections or improve the quality of our waterways.

“The Conservatives’ plans risk undermining the scheme before it even begins. They must think again and ensure that current payments are maintained until the new scheme is rolled out in full.”

Last week, Mr Farron spoke in Parliament on British food and farming standards, calling on ministers to enshrine Britain’s high-quality food, environmental and animal welfare standards into law.