THE Great Yorkshire Show begins today in Harrogate, and will once again showcase the best of UK agriculture. However, away from the rosettes and trophies, the farming sector is having to face up to some very real fears about what a no-deal Brexit would mean for farmers and food producers up and down the land.

NFU president Minette Batters has pulled no punches when it comes to predicting what leaving the European Union without a deal would mean for her organisation’s members.

Describing a possible no-deal departure as “catastrophic”, Ms Batter has warned of the prospect of producers being unable to export after October 31, with sheep farmers, many of whom live and work in our region, likely to be hardest hit.

With 40 per cent of British lamb currently sold to France, farmers would go out of business and a large percentage of the UK’s current sheep flock would have to be slaughtered if exports ground to a halt.

At the same time, the UK would be unable to prevent the import of food that does not meet current standards. “We don’t want to import food that would be illegal for our farmers to produce here,” said Ms Batters.

Politicians have acknowledged the potential for problems, and Jeremy Hunt has pledged to set aside a fund to help the agricultural sector cope if he is elected Prime Minister.

However, with the clock to Halloween ticking, many farmers are understandably worried. ‘Taking back control’ will sound like a hollow pledge if the country can no longer feed itself.