In February of this year, the Department of Food and Agriculture published its ominous-sounding ‘Command Paper’. In this document, Mr. Gove, the Environment Secretary, set out his vision for the future of agriculture.

Now it is true that farming is at a crossroads. The decision to leave the EU will have enormous consequences for the industry, the full ripples and shockwaves we will only come to understand twenty years from now. Mr. Gove’s Command Paper was therefore something that all farmers have looked at closely and with trepidation.

It is an unfortunate tendency of Brexiteers such as Mr. Gove to think only in binary terms. In his document, he depicts the last fifty years as a time of catastrophic failing and looks forward rosy-eyed to a future where animals and humans will live together in health and harmony (yes, really - ‘Health and Harmony’ is the actual title of his paper). Here’s the kind of thing he had to say: “Over that period [while the UK has been part of the EU], the environment has deteriorated, productivity has been held back and public health has been compromised.”

How does Mr. Gove think that farmers are going to read these words? It’s like a manager who comes to you and says for the last fifty years your work has been rubbish but that’s okay, because there’s going to be changes in the organisational structure.

He also writes: “The environmental damage we have suffered while inside the Common Agricultural Policy has been significant. Soil health has deteriorated…Precious habitats have been eroded. And at the same time a system of subsidy skewed towards those with the biggest landholdings has kept land prices and rents high, prevented new talent coming into farming and held back innovation.”

This argument is so muddled that it does make my blood boil. It is of course true that the Common Agricultural Policy is not perfect. It is also true that farmers can always do better with regards to wildlife, the environment and animal welfare. But Mr. Gove’s proposal for the future is the abolition of general subsidies altogether. What does he think will be the consequences of this blanket approach? Here’s what I think: smaller farms will feel the pinch hardest and many will go out of business. Some will turn into de facto wildlife parks (which might receive some government money). But on the whole British agriculture will be forced to move from family farms towards more industrial, American-style, thousand-herd-dairy systems in order to make profit margins work.

Who wants this?

Mr. Gove’s utopic vision will end like all utopias do - badly.