FARMING leaders congratulated Boris Johnson on his election as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

But Tim Breitmeyer, president of the Country Land and Business Association, and Minette Batters, NFU president, both urged him to avoid a no deal Brexit.

Mr Breitmeyer said: "The rhetoric of No Deal must not be allowed to become the political default option. So too must the EU realise that the political dynamic has changed in the UK, and that a return to the negotiation table is the best way to ensure a smooth and orderly transition."

He said, in the long term, rural businesses will be able to adapt to the changing political landscape. "But for the immediate future, the uncertainty is deeply concerning and brings in to sharp focus the need for a long term funding settlement to replace the Common Agricultural Policy. This would provide much needed reassurance for farmers in uncertain times."

Mr Breitmeyer also said the UK has a growing reputation for its food production. "In any future trade discussions our high standards must not be up for negotiation. Quite the opposite. They are our biggest selling point and the Government must fly the flag for British produce loudly and proudly."

Mrs Batters urged Mr Johnson to do everything in his power to ensure a smooth and orderly departure from the EU - including free and frictionless trade with the EU.

In a letter to the Prime Minister the NFU highlighted five additional priorities for the new government - stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation; rising to the challenges of tackling climate change; promoting the UK's high food standards through trade policy; ensuring an adequate supply of labour; and a long term budgetary commitment for food and farming that rewards farmers fairly for delivering public goods.

Mrs Batters said: "To achieve the best outcome from Brexit, we need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way. A deal with the EU is crucial to maintaining free trade with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as access to people that want to come to the UK to work on farms.

"We need to see policies that allow farm businesses to innovate, that help farmers rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, that enable farms access to the workers that pick, pack and grade our fruit, veg and flowers, and crucially an Agriculture Bill that is fit for purpose for the rising challenges of food production."

Mrs Batters also thanked Theresa May for her efforts as Prime Minister and her willingness to engage with the food and farming sector at such a crucial time.

Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association (NSA) urged Mr Johnson to prioritise an orderly Brexit.

He said leaving without a deal would cripple UK trade. He said: "We currently export some 35 per cent of our sheepmeat, with about 96 per cent of that going to EU markets. To suddenly add a tariff of 40 to 50 per cent of value will make trade to the EU unworkable without severe price collapse that the industry cannot carry.

"Promises of a rescue package once things have gone wrong are the wrong approach – what is needed is a strategic package of measures to avoid collapse in the first place. I urge Mr Johnson to prioritise an orderly Brexit that gives continuity with trade, and the formation of a clear strategic plan that negates any breakdown of Britain's sheep farming industry."