The rising cost of producing food is pushing many Welsh farmers to plan scaling back their operations.

In a poll of over 700 farmers across Wales, covering all sectors, 71% said they intended to reduce production next year as a consequence of increased costs and other factors.

According to NFU Cymru's survey, just over half (54%) of beef farmers will be reducing stock numbers in the next 12 months, averaging out at an estimated 10% cut in cattle numbers.

Meanwhile, in the sheep sector, 46% of farmers will be reducing their flock with an estimated average 7% reduction in stock numbers.

And four-in-ten (40%) dairy farmers said they would be reducing milk production in the next 12 months, with 39% of arable farmers saying their crop production levels would reduce over the next year. A minority (21%) of poultry producers said they would be reducing bird numbers.

Of those Welsh farmers who said they planned to reduce production next year, 79% said it was due to increased costs imposed on their business.

Other issues leading to a reduction in production included insufficient returns from the market (53%), the impact of Welsh government’s Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations (44%) and other government regulation (41%).

Read more: Rising costs pushing farmers to scale back their businesses

Much of the reason for the increased costs farms are having to swallow is due to hikes in the prices of feed, fuel and fertiliser – commodities that are essential to the day-to-day running of farms that ensure farmers can maximise production.

With costs in fertiliser having risen at least three-fold in many instances, 83% of farmers said they would be using less over the coming 12 months.

The anticipated drop in production levels is also demonstrated by 33% of farmers saying they will be making less forage this year and 53% stating it is their intention to buy in less feed.

Given the global food crisis and the fact that escalating costs are forcing many farmers to reduce production and, in some instances, even consider whether they will be able to continue farming, NFU Cymru is calling on Welsh government to focus on food security.

It follows the Welsh government's proposals for a new Sustainable Farming Scheme, released this month, which NFU Cymru said needs reassessed to ensure domestic food production is protected.

Union president Aled Jones said: "For many months we have been hearing the struggles that our members are facing with rising costs at the farm gate.

"However, seeing those collective intentions in the results of this survey paints a worrying picture on the effect this is going to have on Wales’ food producing capacity.

“Given the concerns around food security across the globe, the findings of this survey show that doing nothing is simply not an option."