Bernard Stokes is farm manager on 250 acres in Wiltshire which runs a beef suckler herd. There is also a share farming agreement with a larger estate.

“The question of how we’ll be supported now we’ve left Europe is the biggest worry confronting farmers,” Mr Stokes said. “Agriculture needs supporting somehow – but the difficulty is how and where it’s going to come from.” The government has to do something to help, but agriculture could be left last on the list of those industries who need state support post Brexit.

“We’re one of the leading nations in agriculture and there has been a lot of much needed support over the years. But in the European Union now there are so many countries such as Romania and Poland which are becoming good at farming in their own right. They have very fertile land which can produce corn and possibly livestock a lot cheaper than we can. So where does that leave us? We could be at the bottom of the queue.”

Mr Stokes said the farm he works on would “suffer dearly” without subsidies. “We, like a lot of other farmers, are in conservation schemes which are well supported. We rely on those payments to help protect the environment. But unfortunately, you cannot take land out of production and be paid nothing. That support has to come from somewhere, but I and a lot of other farmers don’t know where it’s going to come from.”

Sean Dempster is a house master at Marlborough College and teaches biology. He also runs most of the school’s field sports, and is in charge of fishing, clay pigeon shooting and begging.

“As an environmentalist and someone who is very interested in field sports, I would be keen to see farming achieve the dual aims of being intensive enough so that we can feed ourselves without having to import vast quantities of food and having a huge impact on carbon dioxide emissions and so on; and, at the same time, protecting the environment so that farmland birds and biodiversity are maximised. There is no doubt that farmland birds have declined substantially as a result of farming practices, so that needs to be addressed urgently.

“I don’t think it is fair that massive farmers have massive subsidies just because of the size of their land. Small farmers with a lot of hedges round their fields may have more biodiversity. So I think subsidies should be tied to environmental stewardship.” Subsidies will have to come from the government, and taxes may have to increase to pay for them. “We will have to educate the public to understand that without doing that, the countryside as it is will not continue to exist.”

Peter Rigby was at agricultural college and left to be a dairyman on a Hertfordshire arable farm with a dairy herd. Then he moved to Wiltshire and worked on a large estate with four dairy herds and 550 cows. “I was milking 150 dairy cows in a one man set up.” Eventually, Mr Rigby gave up milking cows and went into the dairy feed industry.

“Unless the public are prepared to pay the costs of production for milk or anything else and pay more for food – which they never will, because milk has always been a political tool anyway – then we need to support farmers to produce it.

“Farming is a very hard job. Farmers are the custodians of the British countryside which I think is one of the most diverse and best in the world to visit and look at. The recent state of nature report said we are losing species and the authors are blaming farmers for that. I think that’s a little unfair because there are a number of other reasons why species are dying out.”

In the end, the British public will have to pay for subsidies through various taxations. “People will happily pay £4 a pint for beer, but only pence for milk. There needs to be a re evaluation of what we eat, what we buy and what we are prepared to pay for it.”

Alan Archer runs an agricultural and equestrian fencing company based near Lambourn, Berkshire.

“Subsidies have been paid since the last war, so if they were stopped now, how would the gap be filled? And how do you pay them without being unfair to the rest of the British people?” The government probably should support British farming to try to ensure that food can be grown at home rather than be imported.

Currently, the bigger the farm, the more subsidies they receive. “If the subsidies went, it wouldn’t effect my business that much. Only the massive farms which wouldn’t be affected so much would be left – and nine times out of 10 they are so big they don’t need contractors like us.”

Mr Archer works for more small family farms than larger ones which tend to take all the gates and fences down and operate on huge fields. On top of that, the dairy industry is getting smaller and smaller.” Most of Mr Archer’s business these days is equestrian – and with the horse racing industry popular around Lambourn, there is a particular demand for post and rail fencing.

Ruth and Chris Manners, who farm in Wiltshire, have no tenancies, but just rent land independently. If farmers were to offer Mr and Mrs Manners a tenancy, they could claim the subsidies and the farmers would lose out – which is why, Mr Manners said, farmers prefer renting. They rent about 260 acres of grassland from four landlords to graze sheep. As well as the sheep, Mr Manners does agricultural contracting.

There was a ewe premium subsidy for sheep, but that has gone, and now payments are linked to the land, allowing landowners to take the subsidy. “At the moment, we don’t make a profit on the sheep because it is all reinvested in trying to increase our flock numbers,” Mrs Manners said. They will never be able to live off the sheep alone, because every year is different and depends on the lamb price. “I think the government should recognise that people like us need to be heard as much as big farms. We are forgotten, and yet there are plenty of people in our situation trying to farm without subsidies and without owning any land.”

Perhaps subsidies should be capped, Mrs Manners added, because very wealthy landowners can claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in subsidies. “To me, subsidies should be directed to those who actually need them.”

Sheep farming helps to manage the countryside, Mr Manners said. “Sheep don’t rob the land because they are continuously manuring it. Some landowners on environmental schemes use sheep to their benefit for qualifying so they can be paid a bit more.”

Anthony and Mary Lyle are expats living in central southern Spain in the countryside where they grow peaches, olives, apricots, aubergines, green peppers and courgettes. Mr Lyle used to work in Marlborough, and the couple have been going to the show for about 20 years.

“Subsidies in certain places are a good idea – but generally, they shouldn’t be as necessary as they seem to be,” Mr Lyle said. “Everything you grow has to have a subsidy, but I still think we should pay more for our food.”

Hill farmers should have some sort of subsidy, Mrs Lyle added. “What they contribute to the landscape is over and above what they are contributing as a source of food. I think the hill farmers of the Lakes, Cumbria, Wales and other areas are a different kettle of fish. But your average farmer should be paid the value of what he produces – and the average person in the street needs to stop this idea that they can have everything for free and cheap.”

Now is the time for someone to examine the future of subsidies “carefully and dispassionately,” the Lyles said. Some of the thinking will have to be done by both houses of parliament – because to trigger article 50 and leave the European Union and its subsidies without going through parliament would be “very dodgy,” Mrs Lyle said.