The gripe in Wales has come from farmers with land 400 metres above sea level which is categorised as moorland.

Before they made their legal challenge they stood to receive an single farm payment (SFP) of £6.40 an acre, whereas if their land were 399m, 99 centimetres and nine millimetres (or less) above sea level they would have received at least £64 per acre. In other words, for the sake of an extra one millimetre in height their SFP would have dropped by 90%.

This cannot be fair so I am pleased for Wales’ moorland farmers but wonder whether they have gone far enough with their legal challenge? Rather than simply arguing, as they did, that there was plenty of land below 400m that showed exactly the same farming characteristics as their moorland they should surely have made the case that the whole principle of a higher payment for lower land is rotten?

With the long standing less favoured area payments under threat what happened to the idea that taxpayers’ money spent on agriculture should be targeted at those sectors in most need? How on earth have we ended up in the position where a decoupled subsidy should be 90% higher for farmers on good quality lowland and grass and arable land than for the poor devils scraping around on thin uplands where farmers are trying to earn a living scratching at thin soils or chasing round a few scrawny sheep and cows?

How many times have we heard lectures from politicians of all parties, even from the leadership of the NFU, that English farmers need to learn to stand on their own two feet and live without subsidy? But at the same time they all support a system of subsidy that gives the most money to farmers on the best land.

On the back of the Welsh moorland farmers’ success it is time for the English to launch our own legal challenge. We must seek to create a fairer SFP. How about a simple system that would pay an additional £1 per acre subsidy for each metre that farmland rises above sea level. This would be very easy to administrate and would produce a fair result based on the very simple principle that the further one travelled uphill the harder it is to earn a living from farming so the more subsidy the farmer should receive.

Better still, farmers on the very best land in East Anglia, like the black fen, would be levied a charge of £1 per acre for each metre below sea level that the land lies – just for the privilege of farming it.

Let us hope that my sense of egalitarianism strikes a chord with DEFRA and one day it forms the basis of how the SFP is distributed in England. And please rest assured that my proposal stems from a deep sense of what is fair and proper and has nothing to do with the fact that my farm sits perched right on top of the South Downs.