Defra is being urged fully assess the consequences of the introduction of a living wage for the farm industry, particularly the horticulture sector.
NFU deputy president Minette Batters has urged minister George Eustice to delay introduction of the living wage which was announced as part of the Budget statement earlier this month.
She claimed above-inflation increases caused by the living wage’s introduction would hit fresh produce and ornamentals, sectors which were capital intensive.
She said: "Agricultural production is planned, costed and budgeted well in advance so this announcement has come with little warning to our farmer and grower members.
She claimed growers would be extremely concerned about upward pressures in their business and a lack of time to adapt to these.
“Horticulture is a very progressive and innovative sector," Mrs Batters said.
"Just as Defra started work on its 25-year food and farming growth plan, there are real concerns that this rapid inflation in wage costs could have a permanent damaging impact making UK famers less competitive compared with others in the EU."