The NFU’s annual Confidence Survey has found both short (one year) and mid-term (three year) confidence among British farmers remains negative for the third consecutive year.

The union questioned 662 members between November 5th 2020 and January 8th 2021. It notes that confidence influences future farm production, investment and growth intentions, with a wider impact on the industry’s economic contribution and food production.

The overriding concern among farmers is the phasing out of the European Basic Payment Scheme subsidy (BPS) with sketchy detail of replacement schemes, – 78% of respondents believe this will have a negative impact on their business.

59% of the sample thought that rising input prices would be a negative factor; 53% that post-Brexit changes to legislation and regulation would affect them adversely; 45% that lower farmgate prices would be detrimental and 40% were worried about the markets or supply chain they sell into.

The survey also showed that 44% of farm and 73% of horticultural businesses have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, through a combination of reduced output prices; disruption to markets and customers; and the impact on diversified enterprises.

“The fact that both short and mid-term confidence has remained negative since 2018 is very telling of the uncertainty and challenges farmers continue to face,” observes NFU president Minette Batters.

“Farming is a long-term business. Confidence in our businesses is crucial if we are to continue to be productive and profitable and the driving force behind sustainable, climate-friendly food production around the world.

“This survey shows that many farm businesses are still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic and that there is lots of apprehension about the significant changes to rules and regulations coming down the tracks,” she continues. “Farmers and growers need to know that the government is supporting them and investing in rural Britain.”