I AWOKE on Wednesday of last week to the shrill tones of Mrs Beckett on Farming Today at 6.45. The Secretary of State was in the House firing a parting shot at farmers before hitching up the caravan and heading for Europe.

Her topic was, as usual, the environment, sustainability and her latest "cause": the reduction in paper work for rustics. In league with the Irish/English peer Lord Haskins, she is going to devolve power to the Rural Development Agencies so that she can offload the problems which are sure to follow her misguided rural policies.

Last Friday, I opened my D&S to be told that Mr Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister and rural wag, has issued statistics to tell us that the Dales of the Swale and Ure are among the most deprived in England, with Penhill and Bolton Castle in a very serious state.

Obviously his minions have seen the homeless of the former and they know of the roofless accommodation in the latter. This clearly illustrates the appalling way in which our countryside policies are being put together and it emphasises the need for us to take a stand before it's too late.

I was even further depressed to read that local politicians agree with this totally misleading and useless report. We know we are lucky enough to live in one of the few remaining rural areas and we all know the problems of housing prices, but this is no way to depress them. Government is slowly covering our green and pleasant land, creating suburbia at every opportunity, and I believe it is our duty to stop this desecration when ever possible.

We also know that the RDAs will act on the information passed down from on high because they know no better.

Add to this the suspension of the referendum on regional government, because they know they will lose, and you will see that last week was not a good one for me. Once again our masters have put out a warning call that they have not a clue about rurality, but is there anyone out there to react?

The RDAs are to be responsible in future for many of the policies affecting farming and forestry and, if the referendum goes its way, the Government intends to hand over regional governance to them as well. We know their record in matters of field and forest is pathetic, because they are metropolitan organisations and have never been able to deal with the bits in between towns and cities.

Nobody seems to tell them they are bad at what they do. At the Yorkshire Show there were no members of the public on the RDA stand, which I felt was a shame because surely, after the time they have been among us, they must have some friends.

Across the North the three agencies have dribbled money into the rural economy; they have interfered in things they know little about and have not listened to the people who do actually know the problems.

Last week, Mrs Beckett, Mr Prescott and all the RDAs received a report I, too, received from the Commercial Farmers Group, which consists of a small number of astute and caring agriculturists from across the political spectrum.

The report's title is The Pressure on the Global Food Supply. If any of these people choose to read it, they will be very irresponsible if they do not call a stop to the crazy policies they are putting in place.

As I witness the closedown of our greatest and most important industry, it is sobering to read that our minute allotment allows us only a few square metres each.

In I950 there were 2.5bn souls on the planet; in 2050, 46 years from now, there will be 9bn yet in July 2003 Defra said: "National food security is neither necessary nor desirable." Do you agree? If you don't what are you doing about it?

Climate change, increased water wastage, deforestation and erosion are already causing enormous problems for the guaranteed supply of food in the next decade. At the end of last year the world had only 63 days' cereal stocks whereas, four years earlier, we had 100 days, year on year. This represents a decline of 37pc.

Defra does not dispute that a quarter of UK arable land will go out of production and 35pc of dairy farmers will go out of business owing to CAP reform. This is not to mention the drastic decline in the English beef breeding herd and the effect that will have on upland communities.

Environmental and social policies are disproportionately damaging to the countryside and the food that should flow from it. They are short-term in concept, but lastingly damaging in their implementation.

Lose the farmer, his livestock, capital and expertise and we say goodbye to a safe food supply in years to come. Farming will never be recreated once it has gone. lt has taken hundreds of years to establish and is founded on a commitment and a way of life that comes before profit. If we are to rely on our food in future coming from profitable food factories, we must think again, very seriously.

We have become convinced the world is full of cheap food which, in reality, is the product of cheap land and labour elsewhere. Fragile land is brought into production in South America or Africa, precious water is used to irrigate it, but the tempests come and erode it. Production becomes unreliable at best or ceases and leaves yet another desert at worst.

Look at the atlas and it is obvious Europe is the larder of the planet, yet not one of its composite countries ranks in the top 20 population league. Our pig and poultry production is fast being exported, suffering the fate of non-subsidisation and a loss of farmer control; 45pc of chicken is now coming from countries where avian flu proliferates.

Across the EU land is being squandered, resources are being wasted and vital food producing communities are being destroyed. Officially we are told we are only 46 years from famine. Is this right?

We need a good metropolitan government able to concentrate on getting people into the cities and towns to free the important acres (sorry, hectares). It will have to create an environment in which people really want to live, with affordable housing, quality transport systems, leisure facilities and, above all, a lifestyle that embraces safety.

That is the challenge to the RDAs. In the meantime, Government should hand back power in the field and forest to those who understand the problems. Importantly, those same people care for the land they occupy; they capitalise the production from it and, above all, they have a track record second to none.

I have no doubt that I am right. The CFG certainly agrees. What about you? It's the grandchildren we are talking about, or perhaps we believe in miracles.