Most rural MPs want the UK to remain within the EU – but a Tory party divide has prompted warnings that the concerns of farmers and the wider rural economy are not ignored as the campaign begins in earnest.
Some 200 MPs in England and Wales represent constituencies where at least one-third of the population lives within a rural area.
As it stands, 111 (56%) of these MPs are in favour of remaining within the EU, 72 (36%) want to leave, with 17 either undeclared or declared neutral.
All 30 Labour rural MPs are in favour of remaining.
But 162 of the 200 rural MPs are Conservatives – and they are divided on the issue.
Some 74 (46%) of Tory MPs want to remain, 71 (44%) want to leave and 17 are undeclared or neutral.
The in-out voting intentions of rural MPs were researched by the Country Land & Business Association (CLA).
It has warned both campaigns they must ensure agriculture is not sidelined as politicians debate wider issues around the future UK-EU relationship.
Fundamental questions remained unanswered about markets for agricultural products, other goods and services, said CLA president Ross Murray.
“It is vital our members and the wider rural business community have the best information possible to help them decide how to vote.”