The rising cost of production has contributed to the poor mental health of farmers and food producers, according to a recent survey.
The survey, from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), found that 68% of farmers attribute spiralling input costs – like the cost of energy, fuel and fertiliser – as having a negative impact on their mental health.
The survey of 650 farmers also showed that 61% felt unfairness in the supply chain has negatively impacted their mental health, and almost 50% said rural crime is affecting their well-being.
The union said this is evidenced by the rising number of tractor GPS thefts seen in recent weeks, which NFU Mutual has reported as having doubled during the first few months of this year compared to the same period last year.
NFU vice-president David Exwood said: “Working in the farming industry is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. We produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the nation while shaping some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
“But as has been shown by our distressing survey results, the pressures are incredibly challenging too.
“Our survey pinpoints some of the root causes affecting rural mental health – economic and political uncertainty – and we are calling on government to continue taking steps to address these issues to reduce the stress farmers are facing.’’
Exwood said a cultural change is unfolding within the farming sector, where talking about mental health is becoming more accepted.
However, he said there are “still too many farmers and growers simply ignoring the signs and struggling on in silence”.