The man who first coined the term 'Brexit' has warned about the dangers facing farmers over the next few weeks as it returns to the top of the news agenda.
The Brexit expert says farmers are now 'firmly caught in the crosshairs' of the UK's exit from Europe - and many 'do not appear to recognise the scale of the threat' they face.
Peter Wilding, of law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, says large numbers of farmers say they back leaving the EU without a deal even though it could 'place their own livelihoods in jeopardy'.
He says the agriculture sector could pay the 'heaviest of prices' in the event of a no-deal and warned farmers a ‘Brexit tsunami’ was about to hit them.
“There is something particularly difficult to explain going on in the farming community at the moment,” said Mr Wilding, a European law expert who was the first person to coin 'Brexit'.
“Of all the business sectors destined to be adversely affected by Brexit, British agriculture tops the league.
“In spite of this, the Knight Frank Rural Sentiment Survey 2019 of 200 farm businesses revealed that more than a quarter of farmers are backing 'hard Brexit' which will directly imperil their futures.
“Yet despite facing such problems, real and potential, more than half of businesses said they were making zero changes to cope with the challenges or opportunities of Brexit.”
He added: “But I am afraid that the things that are farmers' main concerns - restrictive planning policy, poor rural broadband, fly-tipping, commodity prices and succession issues - will be as nothing when the Brexit tsunami hits them.”
FBC Manby Bowdler’s own research had indicated that farmers were more worried about Brexit than the Rural Sentiment Survey suggested.
However, it shows that many farming businesses had yet to grasp the full implications of what a no-deal exit could mean.
“Farmers must be ready for a generational existential threat to not only their businesses but their communities,” Mr Wilding warned.
“They face pressure on all fronts. If we leave the EU without a deal it is certain that incomes will fall, land prices will fall and exports will fall.
“At the same time we know that tariffs, costs and imports will all rise and that the farming sector will be 'on the table' in all future trade agreements.
“British farming is firmly in the crosshairs and farmers must protect themselves,” he said.