Farming leaders have called for an early commitment the industry will not be hit by the decision to leave the European Union.
Farmers benefit from more than £2 billion a year in subsidies from Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, money which the Leave campaign promised to protect, as well as exporting large amounts of produce to the EU and hiring seasonal labour.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which represents farmers in England and Wales, had said before the vote that farmers’ best interests were best served by remaining in the European Union
Responding to the outcome, NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The vote to leave the European Union will inevitably lead to a period of uncertainty in a number of areas that are of vital importance to Britain’s farmers.
“The NFU will engage fully and constructively with the British government to construct new arrangements. This needs to happen as soon as possible.
“Our members will rightly want to know the impact on their businesses as a matter of urgency. We understand that the negotiations will take some time to deliver but it is vital that there is early commitment to ensure British farming is not disadvantaged.
“It is vital that British farming is profitable and remains competitive, it is the bedrock of the food industry - Britain’s largest manufacturing sector,” he said.
Speaking to the Press Association minutes before Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign, Mr Raymond said farmers needed reassuring in the face of the political turbulence that was set to come.
Mr Raymond raised three key concerns, including access to the European market - to which 38% of UK lamb and three million tonnes of grain were exported each year - and the fear that exports could be hit by tariffs being applied.
Farmers were also concerned about the availability of labour and the need for support levels to farmers to continue so they were not disadvantaged.
He said the last thing that he wanted to see was the horticultural industry, which is particularly reliant on seasonal labour, moving abroad - because “we know British consumers want to buy British food”.
And he said: “Obviously I’m very concerned. There were lots of promises made by some key lead politicians and we will have to hold them to act on those promises, and keep emphasising to the policy-makers how important to the UK farming is.”
Imported food could become more expensive as a result of the vote, he suggested.
“Because I do believe we are going to be more isolated, farming and food production should move up the Government’s agenda.”
He also said he hoped that when the UK left the European Union, decisions on issues such as re-licensing herbicide glyphosate could be made on a scientific basis, rather than by “emotion”.
British politicians would no longer be able to hide behind gold-plating Brussels policies on agriculture, he added, and said he hoped there would be more “light touch regulation” of the sector.