Spiralling production costs have impacted farmers’ mental health, NFU survey shows

06 June 2023

NFU Vice President David Exwood stands with his arms foldedon some grass in front of NFU HQ. He wears a white shirt and red tie, and an NFU gilet.

Soaring costs of production, as a result of the global turmoil of the past 18 months, has contributed to the poor mental health of farmers and food producers, says a recent survey from the NFU1. Over 68% of farmers said that spiralling input costs – the cost of energy, fuel and fertiliser – has had a negative impact on their mental health.

This new survey data also said that 61% of farmers felt unfairness in the supply chain has negatively impacted their mental health and almost 50% said rural crime is affecting their wellbeing. This is evidenced by the rising number of tractor GPS thefts seen in recent weeks.   

The NFU published the data ahead of a parliamentary event convened to kickstart the conversation about making the mental health of the nation’s food producers a priority. MPs will have the opportunity to speak to and learn from farming charities and campaigners, helping farmers out in the field day-to-day, and farmers with their own mental health experiences.

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. This is backed up by a recent report from the Efra Select Committee which called for greater joined-up rural mental health planning and action from government, and we agree with these calls.

“While we are starting to see a culture change within our sector, where talking about mental health is becoming more and more accepted, there are still too many farmers and growers simply ignoring the signs and struggling on in silence. I hope today’s event shows there is support out there as we mark the start of an important conversation.”

More information

  1. The NFU conducted a survey to establish how the health and safety of the farming population is being impacted by the recent changes to the financial outlook of agriculture.
  2. The survey of 650 members, outlines some of the key issues negatively impacting farmers’ mental health:
    • 68% consider input to have had a negative impact
    • 61% consider market volatility to have had a negative impact
    • 61% consider fairness in the supply chain to have had a negative impact
    • 51% consider weather to have had a negative impact
    • 48% consider rural crime to have had a negative impact