A RALLYING cry for food and farming went up at the 160th Great Yorkshire Show, as a survey revealed confidence in the future of the industry is plummeting in the face of Brexit.

Farmers' fears over the lack of certainty were laid bare as the three-day show got underway. Now England’s premier agricultural event, it is the biggest showcase for the industry before Britain’s deadline to leave the EU.

As the political battles continued over Brexit, the National Farmers Union said its survey found that while 69 per cent of members across the North-East and Yorkshire are currently very or fairly positive about business prospects, that dropped to 33 per cent once outside the EU.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “What is stark and concerning is the levels of confidence drop so starkly. That is all based on the lack of certainty.

“It is a time of great risk, opportunity and change. I don’t think we would want to go through what we have gone through to expect things to stay the same. The food and farming companies all need to work together. We have been under-exporting for years and we need to be more ambitious.”

Executive chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association George Dunn said there is rising concern over what happens to farm subsidies.

“There is always uncertainty in farming whether we will be leaving the EU or not, but the decision to leave brings a new level of uncertainty," he said.

“We talk to members that are literally champing at the bit to be in the brave new world around the corner right the way through to those people who are crying down the phone thinking their business is going to fail and they can’t see how they are going to go on.”

Ms Batters applauded Theresa May’s latest stance on a softer Brexit but said much more needs to be done.“We have been calling for a level playing field and flexibility. From day one we said our standards are incredibly important and we don’t want to see them compromised.”