As Devon County Show opens, the county's farming leaders are asking the Government to do more to support their family farms.

A recent survey by the NFU showed that confidence levels in the industry are at their lowest level for three years.

The Farmer Confidence Survey found that the main concern for farmers in the region was steep increases in costs of production, with 88 per cent saying they are being negatively affected by price rises of ‘inputs’ like energy, fuel and fertiliser.

Eighty-two per cent said the phasing out of current farming support payments – which were worth £120 million to Devon in 2020 – is negatively impacting their business confidence and 72 per cent highlighted the impact of increased regulation and legislation.

Farmers are hoping to find out more about what the government’s intentions are at the Devon County Show, which begins today at Westpoint near Exeter.

Devon NFU chair Paul Glanvill, a dairy farmer from Woodbury near Exeter said: “Our family farms are a key part of the county’s economy, with food and farming contributing more than £1.7 billion annually.

"As a family we have invested heavily in facilities at our farm, and if we are to encourage the next generation into the agricultural industry then more farmers need to have the confidence to do the same.

“There are many challenges facing us at the moment and we will be asking politicians at the show what they intend to do to help secure the future of such a crucial industry.

"In particular we are still awaiting many details of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) that is supposed to replace the Basic Payment Scheme, so it is high time we heard more about that.”

The annual survey also found three key factors that would make farmers in the region more willing to invest in the next three years.

They want to see the introduction of a government strategy to avoid them being undercut by food imports from countries with lower production standards, where the carbon footprint caused by food production is much higher than our own.

Farrmers also say they need to see an increase in output prices and a reduction in levels of input price inflation.

Mr Glanvill added that this week’s Farm to Fork food security summit, which saw the NFU and other bodies calling on the government to make sure food security is higher up the policy agenda was a positive step in the right direction, but farmers needed the government to deliver action, not just words.

“We want to see a commitment to maintaining Britain’s food self-sufficiency at 60 per cent whilst avoiding imports that may be causing environmental harm elsewhere in the world, and for supply chains to be made fairer.

“We also need to see Defra and Natural England recognise the role of farmers as custodians of the landscape, and work with us as we seek to enhance the natural environment that it is in all our interests to preserve.”

The NFU marquee will be in its usual position above the main livestock rings at the Devon County Show and NFU president Minette Batters will be there today.