The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said that the lack of rural connectivity is holding UK farming back.

This is a conclusion it has drawn based on the findings from its recently published Digital Technology Survey, which heard from 846 NFU farmer members between December 9, 2021 and March 13, 2022.

It found that only 38% of respondents said their broadband speed is sufficient for the needs of their business - which is 2% worse than the NFU's corresponding 2021 survey.

“This survey makes for very disappointing reading," said NFU vice president David Exwood.

"It shows that very little progress has been made over the past year to increase levels of broadband and mobile access in rural areas despite government promises to level up the country.

"This lack of digital connectivity puts a huge drain on time and efficiency as we’re effectively working with one arm tied behind our backs."

The survey also found that 83% of respondents are unable to get reliable mobile signal in all outdoor locations on their farm and only 44% said their phone signal is sufficient for the needs of their business.

“Farming, like every other business, needs access to reliable broadband and mobile connections," added Exwood.

"They are vital to running modern day food and farming business, impacting everything from accessing data and utilising technology to communicating with suppliers and keeping workers safe on farm.

“Yet, poor connectivity remains a real issue for farmers across the country at a time when they are working hard to boost efficiency and productivity in the face of rising costs.

"It puts farm businesses at a disadvantage, ultimately preventing us from increasing production of sustainable, affordable British food for markets both at home and abroad."

The NFU is calling on the government to close the digital divide that is affecting the rural economy.

“If the government is serious about levelling up the country, it needs to ramp up efforts now to deliver better digital services to rural areas and bridge the digital divide which will in turn support rural communities to thrive," said Exwood.