The Equipment Theft (Prevention) Act must be expanded to include agricultural equipment such as GPS systems, the NFU has said, amid a recent surge in thefts.
The call for action follows months of collaboration between the industry and government which led to the passing of the act, aimed at deterring the theft of quads and ATVs.
However, the legislation does not cover high-value equipment such as GPS systems, which are frequently targeted by highly organised criminal gangs.
Farm machinery theft cost the UK a staggering £49 million in 2022 alone, according to NFU Mutual.
A surge in the theft of tractor GPS units cost the UK over £500,000 in the first four months of 2023, more than double compared to the same period in 2022.
In one incident, thieves targeted GPS systems worth approximately £150,000 across farms in Norfolk.
Other rural crime challenges include hare coursing and livestock worrying. Industry organisations successfully campaignedfor legislative changes regarding hare coursing which were included in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The NFU is pushing for the government to follow through its commitment to introduce legislation, originally included in the Kept Animals Bill, to tackle livestock worrying.
NFU vice president David Exwood warned that gangs have 'plagued' the British countryside in recent years, stealing livestock, valuable farm machinery and expensive GPS equipment.
“We urge government to pass secondary legislation to widen the scope of the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Act to include other equipment, such as larger machinery or GPS systems, and to fulfil its commitments on livestock worrying.
“Farms often double as family homes and small businesses and these crimes have a significant impact on farming families, both financially and emotionally, and have left many rural communities feeling vulnerable and intimidated.
“The creation of the National Rural Crime Unit is a positive step that the NFU has long asked for. We look forward to seeing the benefits of intelligence sharing and increased collaboration that it will bring.”
Bob Henderson, NFU Mutual lead on rural crime, said the insurer's figures showed that the cost of rural theft had increased by 22% to £49.5m in 2022.
He said: “We are proud to provide support and funding for the National Rural Crime Unit, which will strengthen work across the UK ensuring dedicated police resources are targeted where they are needed most.
"We welcome the work by the NFU to bring in changes in legislation to protect farmers and the wider rural community."