Calls to boost confidence to prevent further food shortages - Fruit & Vine

Calls to boost confidence to prevent further food shortages

A new NFU survey suggests the horticulture sector has been hit particularly hard by falling farmer confidence levels – which are at their lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

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Spiralling costs of production are part of the reason that farmer confidence levels have fallen to their lowest point since pre-pandemic, according to an NFU survey.

This has hit the horticulture, livestock and poultry sectors particularly hard, which has been evidenced by shortages of some fruits, vegetables and eggs on supermarket shelves.

The NFU’s latest confidence survey found 88% of farmers felt they were being negatively impacted by input costs such as energy, fuel and fertiliser. Additionally, 82% said the phasing out of current farming support payments is harming their business confidence.

Despite this, farmers’ intentions to invest in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency has rapidly increased – but investment 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.”

Ms Batters called for clarity on future farming support policies, including the Environmental Land Management schemes, to help farmers plan ahead and build financial resilience into their businesses.

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