A Dorset farmers leader has warned “there will be casualties” to the county’s industry if the UK sign a deal to leave the EU without consulting them, writes Ben Williets.

The Dorset chairman for the National Farmers Union, Mike Watkins, said there is a threat of job losses and farmers being driven out of business if the government does not include them in Brexit discussions.

But he welcomed a cash bonus to help supplement the industry when the UK does leave the European Union.

Mr Watkins said: “All sectors of farming will be affected by Brexit, but lamb is particularly at risk. 60 per cent of our lamb is exported to France and they are suggesting anything going into Europe will be charged tariffs but there would be little tariffs coming into the UK.

“We are producing to a high standard that is expensive.

“We can’t have people import food at a much lower standard.

“They have to consult the farming industry when they are writing a new agriculture bill.

“They need to do a deal that is good for farms, not one that is good for the financial city that will sell agriculture down the river.

“There will be casualties, there will be farmers going out of business. People losing jobs.”

Read more: £3billion support confirmed for farmers for 2020

Mr Watkins was speaking after Chancellor Sajid Javid confirmed that £3billion of funding will be used to support farmers when the UK leaves the EU.

The funding will allow for direct payments to continue in 2020 at the same level as 2019 and supplement the remaining EU funding that farmers will receive for development projects until 2023.

Mr Watkins added: “The money will help while they sort what on earth the agriculture bill will be.

“It will help us with volatility the more our prices go up and down.

“We need something to help us with that volatility.”

Farming in the South West currently turns over £2.7billion, which is more than any other region in the UK.

78,000 people are employed in agriculture in the south west and just under ten per cent of those are in Dorset.

Mr Watkins said that if the agricultural bill allows people to import foods from abroad, using chemicals that UK farmers are not allowed to use, it will cost people a lot of money and put farmers out of business.

“There is going to be huge changes. Especially to the small family farms.

“It is a challenging time,” he added.