HUGE numbers of Oxfordshire farmers are likely to oppose the government’s new funding plans announced in Oxford yesterday, one farmer has warned.

Eynsham tenant farmer Robert Crocker, who champions environmental stewardship, said many more commercially-focused farmers will be up in arms.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced plans at Oxford Farming Conference to replace the EU's basic payment scheme with grants to plant trees and wildflowers.

Mr Crocker, who in 2016 announced plans to plant a ‘hedgerow to Cornwall’, said: “In the long-term this move will be good for the environment, but I would guess 70 per cent will probably be opposed to it.

“I think there will be an enormous outcry: there are those farmers who think production should be subsidised so we can maintain high standards.

“Most farmers are concentrating on finances but environmental stewardship has always been something that farms do – it’s only in the past couple of years we have de-couple that."

The Basic Payment Scheme, introduced in 2015, enables all farmers in the EU to apply for funding based on how much land they have, to help keep them in business.

In 2015, UK farmers received almost £2.4bn in direct payments, according to the NFU.

Yesterday, Mr Gove told his audience at Oxford University’s Examination Schools that he wanted to replace the ‘unjust and efficient’ EU payments based purely on land area with grants for doing schemes for the ‘public good’, from boosting access to the countryside to recreating wildflower meadows.

He said he wanted taxpayers’ money going to environmental protection, public access to the countryside, and on technology, skills, infrastructure, and helping rural communities.

However Oxford East Labour MP Anneliese Dodds said the speech lacked detail.

She said: “We still have very little detail on how the government will replace or alter the funding currently provided through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy."

In another surprise move for the Tory environment secretary, after the Oxford Farming Conference he visited the alternative Oxford Real Farming Conference at Oxford Town Hall – designed to cater to small, independent farmers rather than commercial enterprises – and met Lord Mayor of Oxford Jean Fooks.

The Government has agreed to maintain current farming subsidies, which are worth about £3bn, until 2022.