Farmers Fred Henley, Richard Lister and Joe Dewhirst hand out free sausage and bacon sandwiches in York to thank the public for its ongoing support, as high costs and losses threaten to drive many farms out of business.

The farmers were promoting the Red Tractor campaign, which encourages consumers to pay about 7p to 14p more on a pack of bacon to help prevent a crash in the market.

Mr Lister, a pig farmer from Boroughbridge, said: “We have had a horrendous harvest globally, which has meant an escalation in food costs, which make up 60 per cent of the cost of producing a pig.”

He said that in the last six months, the cost of feed had increased by £50 per tonne, and his farm used 500 tonnes per week, amounting to a cost increase of £25,000 per week.

“It’s a continual project improving your farm, but things like that have to be put on the backburner when cashflow is so tight.”

He said other farms might close, leaving inadequate support for UK infrastructure, such as processing factories.

With 70 per cent of imported products failing to meet UK welfare standards, changes in European legislation to raise standards are likely to cause European farms to close too, resulting in a huge shortfall of pork.

That in turn could could cause prices to increase suddenly and by much more.