You will have to forgive me being a little jumpy about our new DEFRA secretary, Michael Gove, suggesting that we can reduce import tariffs on food so that British consumers can eat cheaper food. Last time that was tried in the 1920s and 1930s, large parts of my farm were completely abandoned for farming.

So dilapidated and grown over with bramble, gorse, scrub and even trees did the land become that, by the outbreak of world war two in 1940, no attempt was made to clear the land throughout the conflict. The effort of doing so would have soaked up too much manpower and machinery so it was not until the 1950s, in response to land clearance grants and peace time production subsidies, that the land was returned to farming.

Mr Gove has made a political career out of criticising the European Union so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that he is now seeking to reduce EU trade tariffs. But it is surely still very bad luck on farmers to find such a hard line free trade ideologue as Mr Gove in charge of developing post Brexit British agricultural policy.

Most of the political focus, when it comes to farming and Brexit, has fallen on the basic payment scheme (BPS). But, important though the BPS is to farmers, it is outweighed by the benefits of EU tariff protection. EU import tariffs, for instance, are currently 50% on pork, 74% on fresh milk, 63% on butter, 51% on sheep meat and 53% on wheat. The degree to which farm gate prices would fall if these tariffs were ever removed doesn’t bare thinking about.

In the 1920s and 1930s the effect of exposing UK farming to free trade was calamitous. Cheap food flooded into the country from both the British Empire and the United States. The repeal of the corn laws after world war one opened the door to US wheat production and by the end of the 1920s UK production of grain had collapsed.

I suspect that this time around production from new world countries such as the US and Australia are less of a threat than they were in the 1920s. Today they pay their workers high wages, observe well developed environmental protection regulations and export their goods priced in relatively strong and stable currencies.

A much bigger threat to British arable farmers these days is surely grain producers in developing countries. Farms in the likes of India, Indonesia and Zambia are large enough to be highly efficient but pay their workers low wages and price their exports in weak currencies.

Mr Gove is planning his radical overhaul of farm policy post Brexit and will be free of the protectionist constraints of the common agricultural policy that he so hates. Won’t it be an extraordinary coincidence if he returns my downland farm to scrub in the 2020s, just as a previous generation of pro free trade politicians did in the 1920s?