NFU survey shows lowest farmer confidence levels since the pandemic

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The NFU’s latest confidence survey has shown that farmer confidence is at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

This is in part due to the spiralling costs of production being faced by farmers and growers, with 88%2 saying they are being negatively affected by input costs such as energy, fuel and fertiliser. 82% of farmers have also said the phasing out of current farming support payments is negatively impacting their business confidence. This impact can be seen across the horticulture, livestock and poultry sectors and reflect supply issues seen on shop shelves.

Despite this, farmers’ ambitions to future-proof their business and reach British farming’s net zero targets has increased. However investment to increase climate-friendly farming capabilities is being hindered by low levels of short and medium term business confidence.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “It is shocking but not surprising that our farmer confidence survey is reporting the lowest levels in three years. During this time, we have experienced a global pandemic, a war in Europe, tumultuous political change and extreme weather. If this lack of confidence and uncertainty is allowed to continue during such challenging times, it has the potential to lead to further shortages on supermarket shelves.

“We know from experience that low confidence indicates that farmers don’t have the means to invest in their food producing businesses, which could result in little to no growth in our domestic food security at a time when we need it most. It is also at odds with the government’s own plans for growth, and the commitments made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year to support British farming by setting a target for the nation’s food security, with a statutory duty to report on domestic food levels.

“As well as food security, energy security is crucial to our nation, and currently 38% of British farmers are using or producing renewable energy. As an industry we have a huge ambition to increase this but confidence in the future is deterring farmers from making this important investment.  

“Farmers need to know that government is supporting them through policies that build profitability and resilience into farm businesses to allow us to unlock a thriving food and farming industry. For this we need to see clarity on future farming support policies, including the Environmental Land Management schemes, which will help farmers plan ahead and build financial resilience into their businesses.”

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