A survey conducted by the Nature Friendly Farming Network’s (NFFN) has revealed overwhelming support for a radical overhaul of agricultural policy and the need for subsidies to be maintained post-Brexit to avoid a soil crisis and ensure food security.

Nine out of ten farmers (93%) that responded said that it is crucial to maintain at least the current level of investment, refocused to deliver better value for money, to ensure a thriving sustainable agriculture sector in the UK.

Devon farmer Jon Andrews said: “The largest threat to farms post-Brexit is an unsupported countryside. We’ve not had that since the end of World War Two. If the £3 billion of annual subsidy was removed, you would see farmers disappear.”

Martin Lines, NFFN chairman said: "Farmers across the UK have benefited from EU subsidies, however 80% of those payments were directed at food production and had little regard for the impact of farming on wildlife and our environment. As a result, we now need a system of subsidies that encourage farmers to rehabilitate the landscape as well as producing nutritious, affordable food.

“If we really want a countryside that’s fit for purpose, the £3 billion of subsidies the government is suggesting is a drop in the ocean compared to the investment needed to ensure sustainable food production for future generations. For example, it was estimated that the cost of soil degradation in England and Wales is over £1 billion per year.

“It's also vital that the public supports UK farmers with their purchasing power. The market does not give us the funding we need to improve our hedgerows, maintain field margins, protect wildflowers and encourage nesting of farmland birds. Without public support farmers cannot grow affordable, healthy food whilst restoring biodiversity and reversing soil declines."