Soaring inflation and shortage of labour has brought agriculture to a reset moment and the government has to work with farmers to drive up food production and improve the economy. That was the message from Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union at the Great Yorkshire Show.

She said: “We have had the most extraordinary six years with Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Food production is at the forefront of the minds of farmers and they need a government they can work with to make sure food security is being taken seriously.”

Ms Batters said food has now climbed the ladder after competing for an equal place with energy for the government’s attention. She added: “What we are facing is unprecedented, the government has been focused on the environment and not investing in food production, we need policies to make sure we are producing the country's food.”

The government pays out about £3bn in subsidies to farmers annually for farming the land. Reviews after Brexit have meant a new approach with a seven year transition away from EU-based rules and towards a system in which farmers are paid to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare, and reduce carbon emissions. A large number of the country’s 104,000 farmers have in the past relied on subsidies to keep going.

Mrs Batters said there has to be a new approach. She added: “This is a real major reset moment and recognition that agriculture does underpin the whole of the rural economy if you take out agriculture where would the rural businesses be.

“Now farmers and growers have to be given the confidence to make investments in the future. We need a programme that goes beyond political cycles, we need a long term approach to make sure we are getting a return to taxpayers investment.”

The NFU leader pointed out that farmers are facing unprecedented costs and still have to abide by very high standards of welfare which some other countries do not have.

She added: “With three-fold inflation on fertiliser and fuel costs, the danger is farmers look to contract on spending and so there is less food produced and that is where the danger arises, and we feel the government has to start working with us to make sure farmers keep producing the nations food.

“Australian and New Zealand farmers are working in partnership with government and that is what we want a partnership, we want to be exploring more while doing more for the environment.”

Mrs Batters said in agriculture, the concern was not focused on levelling up between the north and south but on rural and urban areas, and more needed to be done with affordable housing and to encourage people to come and work in the industry through simplified visas to help fill the 30,000 vacancies.