Farmer confidence is at its lowest level since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of the a new survey by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

The survey suggests that 88% of NFU participants have been negatively affected by input costs such as energy, fuel and fertiliser.

A further 82% also said that the phasing out of current farming support payments is negatively impacting their business confidence.

The NFU said this lack of confidence is having the greatest impact on the horticulture, livestock and poultry sectors which in turn has led to produce shortages like eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

President of the NFU, Minette Batters, said the results of the confidence survey reflect the experiences of farmers throughout the country.

“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,” the NFU president warned.

She said that the NFU is very aware that low confidence “indicates that farmers don’t have the means to invest in their food producing businesses”

Batters has warned that this in turn could lead to “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,” she added.


But despite the low confidence levels amongst farmers, the NFU’s latest research also found that the intention among British farmers to invest in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency has increased rapidly.

The union said this demonstrates a real ambition in the agriculture sector to future-proof farm business resilience and reach British farming’s net zero by 2040 target.

However, it also believes that investment to increase climate-friendly farming capabilities is being hindered by low levels of short and medium term business confidence.

The NFU president said:

“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.”

She said farmers urgently need 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.