NFU president Peter Kendall has warned that food production from UK farms could plummet in 2009, despite admitting farming was in a better position to withstand recession than other industries.

The credit squeeze was damaging producers’ confidence at a time when the costs of animal feed, fertiliser and diesel were still high, Kendall said.

Dairy production would fall “perilously low”, while wheat output may drop as farmers struggled with the autumn’s poor sowing conditions, he explained.

Sheep farmers were hamstrung by electronic tagging regulations, while horticulture was suffering from low prices, he said.

“Farming, as the UK’s largest primary onshore industry, could be one of the bright sparks in the recession,” he said. “But that simply won’t happen unless farmers get the recognition they deserve from regulators and retailers.”