Our recent surveys of arable and dairy members have shown that many have been forced to make significant changes to their food production plans, with some facing the prospect of going out of business.
We spoke to 610 dairy farmers and 525 arable farmers about their intentions for the near and mid-term.
Arable survey results
Our arable intentions survey revealed that:
- a third of arable farmers have made changes to their cropping plans in the past four months, which 90% of growers attributed to rocketing fertiliser costs.
- growers are beginning to switch from growing milling wheat for bread to growing feed wheat for animals, because it has a lower fertiliser requirement.
“Costs are rising rapidly on farms across the country and across all sectors. It’s already having an impact on the food we're producing as a nation as well as leading to a crisis of confidence among farmers. These results clearly set out what we have to lose if nothing is done.”
NFU President Minette Batters
Dairy survey results
Our dairy intentions survey revealed that:
- 7% of producers believe they are likely to stop producing milk by 2024. Nationally, this could mean 840 producers leaving the industry.
- over the next two years, dairy farmers were most concerned about prices of feed (93%), fuel (91%), energy (89%) and fertiliser (88%).
Rising costs are denting farmers’ confidence to invest. The importance of food production has been recognised in the government's food strategy. We're asking the government to put these words into action by introducing a statutory duty for ministers to assess the impact any new policy or regulation will have on domestic food production.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “We have some of the world’s best farmers, who are passionate about growing a plentiful supply of food, produced to world-leading standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and sustainability. Britain’s climate is perfect for growing and farming a diverse range of food. It’s more important than ever that we all value that and don’t take it for granted.
“However, costs are rising rapidly on farms across the country and across all sectors. It’s already having an impact on the food that we are producing as a nation, as well as leading to a crisis of confidence among Britain’s farmers. These survey results clearly set out what we have to lose if nothing is done.”
Minette reiterated how positive it was to see the importance of British food production for the nation and its resilience recognised in the government's food strategy, but went on to say that we now need to see this embedded across government business.
“With fertiliser prices doubling, feed and fuel prices rising, and the variable role of the weather, the decisions farmers are making now will feel more like a gamble than ever before.”
NFU President Minette Batters
“Farmers are at the heart of delivering many of the ambitions government holds – whether that is food production, environmental protection, or reaching net zero,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important for all departments to have a duty to consider food production. That way, there is a cross-government approach that truly values British food and farming and delivers for Britain.”
Minette spoke about how British farmers are ready to play their part but that investment and commitment from government is crucial.
“Farming has always been a volatile business,” she said. “But with fertiliser prices doubling, feed and fuel prices rising, and the variable role of the weather, the decisions farmers are making now will feel more like a gamble than ever before. We now need government to put words into action and ensure the nation can continue to enjoy high-quality British food.”