Nick Brown, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, plans to spend tens of millions of pounds to keep afloat hard-up producers, such as hill farmers. The measures will fall short of demands by the National Farmers' Union (NFU), but they will be seen as a sign that ministers are worried about a backlash against the Government in rural areas. The Treasury is understood to be sympathetic.
A survey by NatWest Bank predicted this week that more than 25,000 farmers will be forced out of the industry, up to 15 per cent of full-time producers. According to the NFU, their total incomes will be halved to under pounds 1bn this year.