Over two-thirds of British farmers are 'not confident' about the future of UK food production, a new survey undertaken by hundreds of farmers has revealed.
The survey, of over 500 arable and livestock farmers, shows that only one in 10 farmers think production will increase as inflationary pressures ease.
And 14% of those who participated in the survey say they are concerned that inflation rates will rise even higher than their current peak.
The survey comes amid a global pandemic, a war in Europe, tumultuous political change and extreme weather, all of which has impacted the industry significantly.
Conducted by agri-tech business Hectare, the survey results show there’s a growing call for more to be done to support farmers and the wider food supply chain.
The majority of farmers - 67% - said they have no confidence about the future of food production in the UK.
When asked about their biggest concerns over the next 12 months, farmers – 26% of livestock farmers and 33% of arable farmers – said the lack of clarity around new government support schemes to replace the ending of the BPS topped the list.
Additionally, 12% of farmers surveyed are ‘worried’ about the end of the BPS, with 15% of cereal farmers in particular concerned about difficulties in forecasting their cashflow over the next year.
Official ONS figures show that food and drink inflation reached 19.1% in March – the fastest annual increase in prices for 46 years.
The soaring cost of basic essentials is exacerbating existing pressure from sky-high energy bills, leading to difficulties for many involved in the UK’s food production.
Andrew Huxham, arable farmer and co-founder of Hectare, said it was 'not surprising' that British farmers lacked confidence in the future of food production.
"It’s been an uncertain few years for everyone involved," he said, "undoubtedly, many are feeling vulnerable post Brexit now the Basic Payment Scheme is being phased out.
"Trade deals with countries like Australia and Canada have also raised questions around fairness for British farmers, and how to secure quality and provenance when sourcing large quantities of our produce from overseas.”
It follows the NFU's latest industry-wide survey which revealed that the vast majority (88%) of farmers are being impacted by input costs such as energy, fuel and fertiliser.
And 82% of respondents said the phasing out of current farming support payments is negatively impacting their business confidence.
The NFU warned that the ongoing lack of confidence was hurting the horticulture, livestock and poultry sectors the greatest.
However, Mr Huxham does see cause for some confidence: “UK farmers should be confident about the future," he explained.
"Good food production requires a real desire to produce quality food in a sustainable way that enhances the environment, and farmers are doing a really good job of this already."
It comes after the government pledged to commit to farmers' interests in future trade deals, as well as boost UK fruit and vegetable production, as part of a new package of support to ease industry woes.