EU-UK flag© Isopix/REX/Shutterstock

An overwhelming number of young farmers say they will vote to leave the EU in the referendum on 23 June, according to an exclusive poll.

Farmers Weekly asked members of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC) how they planned on voting at this weekend’s YFC annual convention in Blackpool.

Out of the 656 members who voted, 38% (251) said they wanted to stay in but 62% (405) said they would like to leave.

See also: 58% of farmers back EU exit

The results are in-line with a previous Farmers Weekly survey carried out in April when 58% of farmers voted in favour of leaving the EU and only 31% chose to remain.

Both sets or results contradict views of farming unions, which are unanimous in their views to stay in the EU.

At an NFYFC referendum debate on Saturday (7 May), many members said they felt compelled to stay in the EU because of the lack of clarity about what it would mean for farming if the UK left.

Sam Dilcock, chairman of NFYFC’s Agri steering group, said the EU offered British farmers stability and security, adding: “It’s better the devil you know.”

If we are not going to work for ourselves, at least let the French work for us Laura Graham from Escrick YFC

Laura Graham from Escrick YFC, Yorkshire, said she felt British farmers would be worse off outside the EU because of the lack of unity among British farmers compared with other member states.

She said French farmers were much better at working together and protesting to get change.

“If we are not going to work for ourselves, at least let the French work for us.”

However, new entrant Charlotte Johnston said she supported the leave campaign because she believed it would create a level playing field for those starting out in farming.

She added: “As a new entrant, I feel my business would have more opportunities if we left the EU.

“At the moment I’m competing against farmers who have subsidy but because I rent grassland I can’t claim it.

“I think it would allow me to increase production, access more land and become more competitive.

“I have got concerns with trade, but for me it’s worth the risks.”

Young farmers weigh up the pros and cons of the EU

Reasons to remain

Reasons to leave

Gives farmers access to EU markets

Other countries are slow to – or don’t adhere to – new regulations in the same way British farmers which puts the latter at a disadvantage

Provides the UK with security and political stability

It is unlikely we’d be “trade blocked” from Europe and it might open up global trade opportunities

Migration – UK would lose a large proportion of their seasonal workforce and British workers don’t want to do that type of work. Large sectors of farming will suffer.

Disparity between direct payments – some other European countries have much higher P1 payments than British farmers which puts them at a disadvantage

If the UK leaves it is likely the Environment Agency could govern policies more heavily and that would be worse

If trade was levied it would give British farmers a competitive edge over imports

Removes uncertainly – there is no guarantee farmers would receive the same level of support they currently do despite promises from the out campaign

We don’t have a strong enough representation at Brussels – the French has three times the number of commissioners compared with us

Ability to influence decisions higher up rather than accept them

CAP could be overhauled – it is currently unfair and favours slipper farmers

It might affect the UK’s image – so the UK won’t be seen as a global player and this could affect trade deals

Power to shape our own future and freedom to change policy